Noel Blakiston 1966-1975

Noel Blakiston O.B.E.  became Chairman of the Chelsea Society in 1966 and held the office for nine years.

He died in 1984, and the following obituary by Lesley Lewis appeared in the Society’s Annual Report for 1985.

“When Noel became chairman he asked me to help the two then joint secretaries, Alex Orde and Iris Medlicott, with planning matters. We all saw a great deal of him and it was I think a tribute both to him and to all honorary secretaries that we always worked together so harmoniously without crossed lines. We got him to use carbon paper, which he claimed not to know about, and his scribbled notes would fly around between us, rapidly and often hilariously.

Whatever he did bore his personal stamp of originality and humour and I never ceased to be impressed by his solid professionalism in everything to do with printed matter. He could read quickly and accurately the paper which flows into amenity societies, and he edited many of the Annual Reports himself, apparently effortlessly.

He was an excellent Chairman of the Society, with a deep love of Chelsea and a knack of keeping on good terms with people who did not necessarily share his views or see his more subtle jokes. He was a far from cloistered scholar, enjoying to the full country pursuits, foreign travel, club life and the company of the young. He spent nearly all his married life at 6 Markham Square, a happy family home for him and Giana and their two daughters, where the door always seemed open to persons distinguished in the arts, or to old friends not particularly distinguished in anything.

I first met Noel when, as a quite young man, he sat at a high desk in the Round Room of the Public Record Office, supervising and helping the readers there. I cannot have been the only young female reader to be bowled over by his outstanding good looks and I was soon to learn that these were more than matched by the courtesy and constructiveness of his professional advice. Those happy years of research however ended for me with the war, and it was not until 1955 when my husband and I came to live in Chelsea, that I again picked up the friendship with him and Giana.

Noel Blakiston died on 22 December 1984. Many members must however have read the obituaries in the Times and elsewhere which recorded his distinguished career on the staff of the Public Record Office. Many too must have read his books- The Roman Question /858-/870, edited from Odo Russell’s despatches from Rome; A Romantic Friendship composed of letters from Cyril Connolly, and his volumes of delightful short stories. Others will know of his Italian studies and his contributions to learned journals.

The Chelsea Society, although a venerable institution, remembers with affection and gratitude its wonderfully uninstitutionalized Chairman.”

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