Christopher arrived at the College in 1955. He was brought up in Camberley, a place surrounded by the military, with the Staff College and RMA Sandhurst across the road from where he lived. In some ways, it was no surprise that he was sent to Wellington, being the local public school, although Christopher was the last person to be engaged in military activities – or interests. However, the ethos of the Iron Duke may well have inspired his interest in History, which was to remain with him always.
In 1960 Christopher gained an open Exhibition to read History at Oriel College, Oxford. Whilst at college, he will have reflected on Sir Thomas Bodley’s qualifications for the pursuit of knowledge: ‘leisure, learning, friends and means.’ Each of these was to play apart in his life.
On leaving Oxford, Christopher decided on a career in Law and took articles with the firm of Solicitors. It was not that he then had a keen interest in law, it was more that he could enjoy the intellectual challenge of working with a system that governed society and its relationships with the individual. He had a social conscience – and therefore no attraction to the heady world of business and corporate profit. Having qualified, he joined a Fleet Street ‘Boutique’ firm of solicitors that specialised in aviation law: this he enjoyed as he got on well with the two partners and was free, under their tutelage, to explore an area of law unknown to many. Unfortunately, the firm failed to secure sufficient high-level clients, since the larger airlines all have their own legal departments.
When the firm broke up, Christopher followed one partner into a large London firm which was not to his taste, it being too commercial and competitive. Thus, when in receipt of his family inheritance, Christopher took time out to travel the world, overland to Australia via Nepal in the first year and on to South America, via the Galapagos, in the second.
On his return, Christopher could find no opening in the law that attracted him. Eventually, he took a part-time post with the National Union of Students, advising on grants and benefits. This finally led to a role in the Judiciary, with the Social Security Appeal Commissioners, who relied on reports by Christopher and his colleagues to issue their decisions. Christopher was so well thought of by his colleagues and the Commissioners that, on reaching retirement age, he was re-engaged as a Consultant and continued working part-time until prevented by his final illness. This post in the judiciary gave him long lasting satisfaction, providing a useful service to society to match his intellectual abilities. It had taken some time to find his niche but, once found, it was much valued.
Whilst being a very private person, he maintained many longstanding friendships. He was kind, generous and considerate with good conversation: no heated debate, just civilised commentary with quiet humour on life and literature and, naturally, the finer points of wine and cuisine. His mind was constantly engaged in visiting new areas or refreshing the old: he would mix degree course work at Birkbeck college, which even involved exhausting field trips, with the sensitive appreciation of music.
His well attended funeral service on 9th April 2014 in London, truly reflected the essence of Christopher ‘s spirit: Handel’s Water Music, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Hymn by Vaughan Williams and readings of the Good Samaritan & Dr Johnson. He is very much missed by family and friends and will be long remembered with great fondness.
George Christopher Hall was born 20th August 1941 and died on 14th March 2014.
With special thanks to his friend Dick FitzHugh for this obituary.