(55)  Hubert Stephen Augustine Copinger

(55) Hubert Stephen Augustine Copinger

Hubert was born on 25thSeptember 1918, the only child of Hubert Stephen de Burgh Copinger and Jane Trinita Copinger. He had a sound education and was brought up within a strongly religious family. Born and raised a Catholic, Hubert and his parents, by mutual consent, left the Roman Catholic Church in 1937 to become Anglicans.

Hubert was 20 years old when he applied for a post at the British Museum. There is a contemporary family story which says that his application was at first turned down but then he was recalled to be asked if he was related to “the great Dr. Copinger”?. This of course was Walter Arthur Copinger, Hubert’s great uncle. At this point he was given a position in the Department of Coins and Medals where he stayed for 22 years becoming a recognized expert on “Communion Tokens”. An article he wrote on the subject was published in the Numismatic Chronicle.

As a devout member of the Church of England Hubert became associated with the Society of Saint Francis. However since the death of his father in 1949 he was committed to the care of his mother and was unable to make a greater commitment to the Society until after her death in 1960. He finally joined the Society as a postulant on Christmas Eve 1960.

Hubert studied at Ely Theological College from 1960, was ordained Priest in Ely Cathedral on 22nd September 1963 and, as the Rev. Bro. Hubert SSF., became Curate of St. Benet’s Church in Cambridge which is run by the Society. His life with the Society of St. Francis is most ably recounted in the sermon given at his funeral. My first contact with Hubert was in December 1963 while I was gathering information on the family history. He came to stay with my wife and I and our growing family on four occasions. Hubert was a man who, it has to be said, enjoyed his food to the full. He introduced us to the delicacy of smoked cheese and told the story that someone at the Cambridge house had once, mistakenly, put him in charge of buying the food and he had spent most of the week’s budget on smoked cheese. I found that he also enjoyed Newcastle Brown Ale and, at that time, the occasional cigarette.

Hubert loved puns which he popped into the conversation whenever possible. Now that our daughter Ruth has gone to live in Corfu he would have so delighted in saying that we are “ruthless”

My wife Pat took him to the nearby Lambton Wildlife Park where he demonstrated his love of cats by rather unwisely opening the car window and shouting “Puss puss puss” to some basking lions who were really too close for comfort but had fortunately just been fed.

Thinking back to his time at Ely, Hubert told us that at one time a newly appointed Bishop of Ely briefly visited the Theological College and immediately insisted that the place be exorcised before his enthronement. I mention this only because on his first visit to us he looked at our bookcase and said, “Oh good, you’ve got some Dennis Wheatley”. His reading on that and subsequent visits largely consisted of Dennis Wheatley black magic books, “To the Devil a daughter” etc.

Two of his visits were timed to coincide with the christening of our children David and Anne. Hubert was their Godfather and in fact baptized them. The Rector and later our friend the Curate, saw the appearance of Hubert on the horizon as an excuse for having a day, or at least a service, off and would gladly hand over their flock and the communion service into Hubert’s capable hands. Hubert was of course delighted to be of help to them.

On one of Hubert’s visits to our cousin Paul Copinger in Scotland, Paul took him to Dunblane Cathedral. Hubert also wished to visit the Cathedral Museum in the Dean’s House which he knew contained a collection of Communion Tokens. They were met by an unhelpful curator who seemed reluctant to display the tokens and unable to answer Hubert’s questions. Hubert, remaining calm and charming, continued the conversation until it became clear to the curator that he was “THE” Hubert Copinger late of the British Museum whose expert knowledge on the subject was well known to him. The curator’s demeanour suddenly changed and he could not have been more helpful. The problem then became, not getting into the museum but getting away from it.

Everyone who knew Hubert will have their own memories of him. Pat and I will remember his charm, his rich humour, his appetite and his attempts to teach us how to play three-handed bridge.

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This page was last updated on 02 August 2016. 

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