Sir Gerald Berkeley Hurst KC
Gerald Hurst lived at Hoblands between 1937 and 1944. He moved there after being appointed as County Court Judge for Croydon and West Kent in 1937. After he retired he continued living in Chislehurst, first at 15 Church Row, and then at Heatherbank, a private hotel. He was born in Bradford in December 1877, the second of three sons and one daughter. He attended Bradford Grammar School, and went up to Oxford to read History, where he obtained a first.
He moved to Manchester to study law, and was called to the Bar in 1902. He continued to practice law in Manchester until he was called up to fight in the 1914/18 war. During this time he married Margaret Hopkinson in 1905. They had six children, five girls, and one son, Quentin, who died in 1941 fighting in North Africa. Quentin’s name is on the Chislehurst War memorial.
Gerald was a member of the Territorial Army, and was called up in 1914 to fight. He fought with the 7th Manchester Battalion, part of the 42nd Territorial Division. He had three tours of duty; to Africa where he was in Port Sudan, to Gallipoli, where as second in command of his Brigade he was involved in heavy fighting, and was invalided out to Alexandria, and finally to Belgium, where once again he involved in the fighting in 1917 at Bethune, where many of his colleagues were killed. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel during this action.
He had been involved in politics before the war, and was released in 1918 to stand for Parliament after the war. He was returned as Conservative MP for Moss Side, which he held between 1918 and 1923, and again between 1924 and 1935.
During this time he continued to practice law, and in 1937, at the age of 60, was offered the opportunity to become a County Court Judge. After a short time in Bristol, he was appointed to the Croydon and West Kent Circuit, where he remained until he retired in November 1952, when he was almost 75.
He and Margaret celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1955. He died shortly after in October 1957, shortly before his 80th birthday. He had always been concerned about his wife’s health, but she lived on until 1969. They are buried together in St Nicholas churchyard.
Most of the information we have on him is taken from his book of memoirs, “Closed Chapters”, published by Manchester University Press in 1942, and written at Hoblands. He followed this up in 1955 with a typed supplement ,“O’er Moor and Fen”, which goes into much greater detail about his family background and history. We have copies of both books.
A photograph of Gerald Hurst available from The National Portrait Gallery is included in our booklet