Cyril PictureFramePhotos1optimisedWEBIt is very clear both from Cyril's life, practice and what was said of him by others that he had a strong Christian faith. As a child he and his sisters regularly attended Balsham Parish Church, known as St Marys. Here is a copy of the church magazine cover for July 1916 - the year he left for war. Below is some of the evidence for his faith in God, as offered by those who knew him. After his death in 1969 and before his funeral, his younger son, John, wrote a letter to the Rector of St Marks, Bexhill, who was to preside over the occasion. Cyril's wife, Elaine, made a handwritten copy of this letter and It is well worth reading it in its entirety as follows.

157 Dimond Road, Southampton                                                  26th August 1969

Dear Rev Johnstone,

     It will have been a shock to you, on your return from holiday, to hear of the death of my father, Colonel Hooke. You will have heard that he passed peacefully, being unconscious or sleeping during the few days he was in hospital.

     You will know how unassuming my father was and how his faith in God was expressed quietly in all aspects of his life. As far as he was able he continued his daily habit of Prayer and Bible Reading until he found reading so difficult. We (my brother and I) perhaps experienced little of his direct leadership because of his absence abroad during the war, but we do recall a holiday in Bexhill when he took us to the children's special Service Mission Services on the beach. These were representing the simple faith in God he had as a result most probably of his attendance at Crusader Bible classes in his teens. We have no doubt too that there was the Godly influence of his parents.

     His sense of humour has always been a great benefit to us as a family, and this was surely an outward expression of the Christian joy within his heart and mind. My mother has said that she would wish the service to express his simple faith and that he always loved joyful hymns.

     My brother and I know that our father has "crossed the river into the heavenly city" and so is "with Christ which is far better".

     This is the confidence we have and is shared by our mother, and which we feel sure will be expressed in Tuesday's service. This explains in part the choice of music and hymns, the predominant reasons though are that "I know that my Redeemer liveth" was a favourite of his mother's and a cheerful hymn was always his preference.

Yours sincerely

John Hooke

Cyril & Elaine committed themselves tirelessly to St Mark's Church, Bexhill-on-Sea during retirement. Two things stood out. Firstly, Cyril set up a Parish Visitation system in order to make new people welcome at the church. Secondly, after writing to the Rector, he also set up a home Bible Study which was very well liked by those attending.

Parish Visitation

Parish VisitorWEBWhen he had to relinquish his position of responsibility for visitation due to his ill health, the Vicar wrote as follows:

The Rev. Leslie W. Johnstone

St Mark's Rectory, Meads Road, Little Common, Bexhill, Sussex.

27 March 1968

Dear Col Hooke,

     Mr E T PITCHER of 62 Birkdale has agreed to take over as Secretary of the Parish Visitors. He is going to Sheffield at the week-end and will contact you next week.

     There will be other opportunities to say more, but I must at this moment thank you for launching this very important work and for the wonderful way you have carried out your duties. We are very grateful to you. With kind regards to you and Mrs Hooke.

Yours sincerely,

Leslie Johnstone

A year later, as Cyril's health deteriorated further, he received the following replies to his resignation as a parish visitor, a task he had clearly continued after resigning as the Secretary.

Deredis, 11 Meads Road, Little Common, Bexhill, Sussex.

15 May 1968

Dear Col Hooke,

     I have been asked by St Mark's PCC to write and thank you for all the work you have done to organise our Parish Visitors during these last nine years.

     This has been very much appreciated and we all regret you have had to relinquish this work. Hoping you are now keeping better.

yours sincerely,

Enid Montgomery

Parish Visitor LetterWEB

Bible Study Group

In October 1958, Cyril Hooke launched a Bible Study Group at St Mark’s Bexhill, after gaining the enthusiastic agreement of the Rector (see the first letter below). He obviously took great steps to invite as many local people as possible, both by letter and by visit, some of whom he did not know personally.

We do not have any copies of Cyril’s letters, only the following responses.


The Rev Leslie W. Johnstone

St Mark’s Lodge, Meads Road, Little Common, Bexhill, Sussex


1 Oct ‘58

Dear Col Hooke,

     Thank you for your letter. What a joy it is when someone comes forward to help without having to be “press-ganged” into activity!

     Would you please go ahead and write to those interested. I should very much like to attend the opening meeting and will, if I may, drop into as many subsequent meetings as possible.

     I suggest that it would be best to have alternately one book from the New Testament and one from the Old under discussion. Just what you study must be decided by the group. Personally, I should think that Romans would be a good beginning for it deals with the great doctrinally themes whereas some of the smaller epistles are concerned more with particular aspects of the faith. However, I leave that to the group.

     I think the procedure outlined by you is excellent. I would urge you to have a definite ending, closing with prayer. This avoids the meeting ending by drifting into friendly chatter! I suggest that you state how long that the meeting will last (? 1hr) and then people can chat afterwards if they wish to do so.

     Each time you start on a new book of the Bible I will, if you like, come and give you an introductory talk on background, themes etc. Also, if there are any questions unanswered at a meeting at which I am not present if they are put on a piece of paper I will do my best to find the answers.

     As a general rule I should try to deal with one chapter per session and each person should bring with them as many commentaries and other books of reference they can find. IVF notes may help here - but it is important to have other points of view as they maintain a fundamentalist position which most people cannot now accept. (see the Lambeth Report).

     I will gladly let the group borrow any of my books. It may be worthwhile later on, for the group to join one of the London theological libraries and have relevant books sent down to them.

     Please let me know what you think about all this, and suggest a date for the first meeting so that I can make a point of attending.

Yours sincerely

Leslie W Johnstone


     On second thoughts, is it worth having a meeting just to discuss procedure? Would they mind if we chose the first book and I came prepared to start it off? Please say what you think.

 PHOTO: St Mark's Church, Little Common, Bexhill-on-Sea.St Marks ChurchBexhillWEB

7 Ocklynge Close, Little Common, Bexhill on Sea, Sussex.


Dear Colonel Hooke,

     Thank you very much for coming round yesterday and bringing the notice about the meeting for the Bible study group next Monday, 13th.

     My friend and I will come along, at least I will try to get there as soon after 5 o’clock as possible. I am working in Hastings and it is not really possible for me to get to anything we have before 6 o’clock, so putting my own point of view I do hope it may be possible to have the discussions a little later.

     Also, I expect you realise that Mondays are not going to be a very good day on account of the lectures at the De La Warr Pavilion, though of course if the discussion group is only to be fortnightly - on alternative Mondays to the lectures - that will be all right.

     I know it is impossible to please everyone in these matters!

Yours sincerely,

J. S. Griffiths

The ClinchesadjWeb

PHOTO: The Bible Studies were held at the home of the Hookes on Collington Lane East, "The Clinches".

7 The Byeway, Little Common, Bexhill on Sea.

7th October 1958

Dear Colonel Hooke,

     It is kind of you to invite me to your home on the 13th, and my wife and I would have accepted your invitation with great pleasure had it not been that we go away for a week on Wednesday next. I told the rector on Sunday evening how disappointed we were to miss the first meeting of the study group. We hope that nothing will prevent our attendance at subsequent meetings.

     Monday and Wednesday are convenient days to both of us and if the time could be a little later it would suit us. The Acts of the Apostles is one book that I would like to see placed on the syllabus.

     With renewed regrets and hopes of making your acquaintance soon, I have no doubt I know you buy sight.

Sincerely yours,

Albert Hitchcock


22 Chestnut Walk, Little Common, Bexhill.

Dear Col Hooke,

     I am sorry I could not attend the first meeting of the Bible Study Circle. Thank you for sending me the notice. I should be grateful if you would send me any further particulars.

Yours sincerely,

H K Lester 

Cyril PictureFramePhotos4optimisedWEB

The Rev. Leslie W. Johnstone

15 Oct 58

Dear Col Hooke,

     Would you kindly send an invitation to Miss Gillian BALL of 9 South Cliff Avenue to attend the next Bible Study Group, giving her details?

     This young girl of about 20 is a partial spastic case (mentally normal but unable to walk very far). Her mother would bring her by car.

     I thought last Monday went quite well - but I must not do so much talking another time! Please stop me if I say too much for it is so important that all should contribute.

Yours sincerely

Leslie W Johnstone

The Rev. Leslie W. Johnstone

5 Nov 58

Dear Col Hooke,

     Three or four of our Bible study group members have approached me and said that they feel that the discussions are rapidly getting “out of their depth”.

     It is so difficult when people are too shy to speak at the meetings, and therefore we are not able to ascertain their views. I rather gather that they would prefer to discuss the main themes of each section rather than a detailed study of each verse.

     With your permission I would like to say something at the beginning of our next meeting, in order to draw out these views into the open. It is so much better than coming to me when the meeting is over!

With kind regards, yours sincerely

Leslie Johnstone

Amongst Cyril's  letters there is also a sequence of transcripts of letters from Cyril’s elder sister, Mildred Hooke OBE, retired headteacher. It seems that Cyril sought some guidance and direction from her as to how he should proceed with the Bible study group. Click below for a transcript of Mildred's comments.

Cyril Hooke - Correspondence with Mildred

Letters of Condolence

Letters written to his wife, Elaine, on Cyril's death speak of his gentleness, humour, hard work, sporting prowess - and the Bible Study Group.

"We shall ever remember Colonel Hooke for his hospitality to the members of the Bible Study Group at your house and for the support given by you both to the Church Missionary Soicety. St Mark's parish has lost a devoted servant keenly interested in its affairs through his membership of the Parochial Church Council and Diocesan Council to which he applied himself with vigour."   Albert Hirtchcock, Bexhill.

"I regarded Col Hooke as one of the pillars of the church to which he seemed so devoted in a quiet unostentatious way which suggested a deep spiritual life. Our prayer is that now he may rest in the peace of God..."  John Sellars, Bexhill.

"I shall always remember the happy Bible Study groups held in your home, and of the helpful way in which Colonel Hooke led us on many occasions." Marjorie Cowell

"Col Hooke was such a tower of strength to the Church; his kindliness and helpfulness made it such a pleasure to work with him, especially in reading the lessons and finding visitors for the parish," John Ireland, Bexhill.

Cyril was such a fine man, it was a privilege to have known him and he will be a great loss to the community." 

"He was a great sportsman and I shall always remember our games together. He was what one hears described as one of the old school and the world is poorer for the passing of the likes of him. Moreover I do not doubt he has earned his reward in heaven and that you will be meeting again one day must be a comfort to you."  Tony Mason.

Cyril Hooke - Family Letters

Cyril & Elaine Hooke (1890s-1990s)