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Grantham Civic Society Column: Hugh Henry Quilter was a gifted orator

Ruth Crook of Grantham Civic Society.
Ruth Crook of Grantham Civic Society.

Hugh Henry Quilter was born in 1872.

His father, Dr Quilter, had been vicar of Waddington, and his grandfather vicar of Canwick near Lincoln for over 50 years. He was educated at the Cathedral School Worcester, before studying Classics at Oxford University and then at Jena University in Germany.

Hugh Henry Quilter.
Hugh Henry Quilter.

He became an inspector of schools in London in 1896, and there he met and married Rachel Heaton Heap in 1904. They later moved to Hereford, and then Halifax, before settling in Grantham in 1924. He counted Prime Ministers Clement Atlee and Ramsey MacDonald amongst his friends. When he lived in Halifax, Mr Atlee stayed with him, as recorded in his visitor’s book. He served as an inspector of schools for 36 years, and upon retirement was presented with a silver plated tea kettle and spirit stove, and a framed photograph of the people attending the ceremony. The presentation was made by Mr R D Taylor on behalf of the Grantham branch of the National Association of Schoolmasters.

Mr Quilter joined the County Council in March 1934, and he specialised in the development of education. He was also said to be ‘a friend of the poor’. He remained on the council until his resignation nine years later. He was also a Grantham Councillor for the Spitalgate Ward, but lost his seat in 1937. In 1935, Mrs Quilter also tried to become a Grantham Councillor, when she contested the Grange Ward at the municipal elections, but was beaten by 82 votes by the then mayor, Councillor George Mills.

He was the author of several books on old Grantham. He had given two addresses to the Rotary Club on ‘Central Grantham – an historical and descriptive sketch’, and it was felt that the information would be of interest to the general public, so he was encouraged to write the books. His first booklet, published by Messrs W G Harrison of the High Street, was priced at 6d and a foreword was provided by Mr C Bispham, the headmaster of the Grammar School. The booklet contained amusing anecdotes about the Parliamentary elections in 1820, when a prominent country gentleman was arrested and imprisoned. It also included the history of the Apple Cross and Grantham’s fairs, as well as details about Sir Isaac Newton and the Greyfriars of the Grange.

Mr Quilter was a gifted orator and was said to have been able to read the New Testament in both Greek and Latin. On one occasion, whilst attending a church service, the preacher became ill and he took over the service at a moment’s notice. He also provided valuable service to both Grantham Library and Museum. He was Chairman of Grantham Chess Club and won many competitions. The club, in his memory, presented an annual Quilter trophy.

Mr Quilter died at his home, ‘Worcester’, Dysart Road in March 1948 aged 76, and was survived by a daughter Ruth Heap Quilter.


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