On 16th October 2017, the sad news broke of the sudden passing of the Society’s former Vice Chairman, Nigel Stenhouse. A lawyer, with a specialist interest in planning law, a subject on which he lectured. He had previously been an adviser to the London County Council.
Nigel spent his earliest years in Scotland and, like many children brought up during the Second World War, saw little of his father who was overseas. On hisreturn, Stenhouse senior was less than impressed by his son’s pronounced Glaswegian accent and declared, ‘Take that child away and give him elocution lessons!’ Friends recall Nigel’s kindliness to his father, particularly in looking after him in his later years.
In 1960, Nigel went up to Oxford to read Modern History at Merton College. He became a member of a dining society, the Ancien Regime. His friend from those undergraduate days, Maria Perry, said: ‘He was rather an aesthete and belonged to a group who arranged picnics’. One picnic, held in the grounds of Bletchley Park, the top-secret centre of British war-time codebreaking, created a minor scandal.
Those taking part included the future Professor Julian Perry-Robinson, founder of the Harvard-Sussex peace project, John Oingeman and the Hon. Christopher Lennox-Boyd, the renowned collector and antiquarian scholar. ‘Nigel wore his hair slicked down and acquired the nick-name “Nig-Wig”. He was hotly pursued by the Bullingdon hearties. They didn’t wreck people’s rooms in those days, but he was often ducked in a fountain in the middle of Tom Quad.
Like his friend, Lennox-Boyd, Nigel would go on to collect art, becoming an authority on English watercolours, buying and selling works on the European and English markets.
Damian Greenish, former Chairman of Chelsea Society said: ‘I was deeply saddened to hear of the untimely death of Nigel Stenhouse. He had been a member of Council since 1989 and was the Vice-Chairman for some 20 years. I was always grateful for his support and guidance during my period of office as Chairman. His love of Chelsea (particularly its connections with the river) and his knowledge of the Society and its history was wide and deep; he will be sorely missed.’