History

Since 1762 the Hill name has represented a combination of craftsmanship and the highest standards of expertise that the company continues to offer.

The owners and directors of W. E. Hill & Sons: Stefan-Peter Greiner, renowned violin maker, Simon Morris and Steven Smith, managing directors of J&A Beare, Derek Wilson, Hill bowmaker, and Robert Brewer Young, distinguished luthier, have broad experience in expertise, appraisal, violin and bow making, restoration, and conservation.

Their acquisition of the company marked its return to London. The W. E. Hill & Sons workshop is located in the historic coach house and stables of Burgh House from 1704 in London Hampstead.



The garden of Heath Lodge, c.1895

The garden of Heath Lodge, c.1895

1660, 17th February. «In ye morning came Mr. Hill, ye instrument maker, & I consulted with him about ye altering my lute & my viall». Pepy’s Diary

1660, 5th March. «Early in ye morning Mr. Hill comes to string my theorbo, which we were about till past ten o’clock, with a great deal of pleasure». Pepy’s Diary

1742. In this year Joseph Hill was working with Peter Wamsley of «Ye Harp and Hautboy» in Piccadilly. A fellow apprentice was Benjamin Banks.

1756. In this year Joseph Hill moved his business from High Holborn to Angel Court, Westminster, carrying it on at the sign of «Ye Violin».

1762. Joseph Hill moved his business to the Haymarket, and changed his sign from «Ye Violin» to «The Harp and Flute».

1784. William, Benjamin and Joseph Hill, sons of Joseph Hill, Jnr., violin-makers as well as musicians, took part in the Orchestra of the First Handel Commemoration at Westminster Abbey.

1789, 23rd May. «My Amati wanted glueing, so took it to Hill’s for necessary repairs». From a Diary by Thomas Lewin

1808. Henry Hill in conjunction with Tibaldo Monzani, a Genoese by birth and flautist by profession, carried on business as Instrument and Music Seller at 3 Old Bond Street, and subsequently, 38 Regent Street.

1880. William Ebsworth Hill establishes W. E. Hill & Sons with his four sons.

1888. W. E. Hill moved his business from Meard’s Court, Wardour Street, to Number 38 New Bond Street, and in 1895 to the new building at Number 140 New Bond Street.

William C. Retford, c.1905

William C. Retford, c.1905

Albert ‘Bertie’ Phillips Hill, c.1947

Albert ‘Bertie’ Phillips Hill, c.1947

1892, 1902, 1931. W. E. Hill & Sons publish their industry-standard books on the lives and work of Maggini, Stradivarius, and Guarneri.


1939. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford acquires W. E. Hill & Son’s collection of fine instruments.


1940. In this year the firm made a gift to the Nation of Le Messie Stradivari, together with numerous other instruments of great historical interest. These are housed in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.


1974. The Firm purchased Havenfields, a large country house at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, and the New Bond Street premises were closed at the end of the year after nearly eighty years in this famous thoroughfare.


1977. Work began at Havenfields on a new workshop block to replace the old workshop at Hanwell.

2016, 3rd September. The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, Oxford, opens a major exhibition titled ‘Fiddle Sticks - The Story of Bow Making at Hill Violin Experts.’


2016. ‘The Hill Bow Makers (1880-1962)’ by Derek Wilson and John Milnes is published as an authoritative overview of the company history.


2018. W. E. Hill & Sons moved back to London and opened a new workshop in Hampstead, making fine instruments, bows, and accessories.

The Hill shop front at 140 New Bond Street

The Hill shop front at 140 New Bond Street