Hill, Cissie (biog)

(1913-1940) Cabaret Dancer

Lydia Cecilia Hill (Image 1), known as Cissie, was born in Canterbury (2 Kitchener Terrace) in 1913 (Image 2).  Her mother’s parents lived at 32 St Radigund Street (Image 3).  Cissie’s family moved to Herne Bay when she was 4 years old, and she later attended school there.  Her father George Hill served in the Royal Navy.  Cissie left school at 14, trained as a dancer, and joined the Grosvenor House cabaret in Park Lane in London.  Here around 1934 in her early-20s she met the playboy Sultan of Johor, who was staying at the hotel during a planned world tour.  The Sultan, a married man in his 60s of immense wealth, formed a romantic attachment with Cissie.  He funded the purchase of a large new art deco house for her in Herne Bay later that year – known as Mayfair Court.  By 1938 the Sultan had obtained a divorce from his Scottish wife, and announced his engagement to Cissie.

The marriage never took place, and was overtaken by events when, on 11 October 1940, Cissie was shopping in Burgate Street to buy a fur rug.  The street was bombed, resulting in the deaths of Cissie and five others.  Two days later Cissie was identified by her distinctive jewellery.  She was 27 years old.  Her headstone stands in Herne Bay cemetery in Eddington.  A month later the Sultan married a 25 year old Romanian Marcella Mendl.

The World War II bombing of Canterbury is summarised here.  The raid which killed Cissie (11 October 1940) claimed 9 dead in all plus 8 injured.  The overall total for World War II Canterbury civilian losses was 115 killed and possibly 380 injured.  During the war Canterbury suffered over 10,000 incendiary bombs, 445 high explosive bombs, and a single flying bomb.  By far the worst days of the raids for Canterbury were 1 June 1940 (43 dead and 81 injured) and 31 October 1942 (33 dead and 110 injured).  

Sources:  image of Cissie is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_Cecilia_Hill;  also Rootes (1980)