Quentin Morgan Edwards was chairman from 1975-1980, and died in September 2012
Quentin, took over as Chairman from Noel Blakiston when the Chelsea Society was still a coterie of friends most of whom had been part of it since its beginning in 1927. Blakiston introduced Quentin in the hope that he would broaden its appeal and open its doors to a much wider public. This he did.
David Le Lay described him as ‘an innovator who gave a new lease of life to the Society’. He introduced architects, people with an active interest in local history and planning matters and he started the lectures which continue to be popular today.
There are three Chelsea landmarks which would look very different today if it had not been for him. First, The Pheasantry in the King’s Road – now a Pizza Express. In the 70s it was threatened with demolition. Quentin led the fight to preserve it. The addition of the ‘wings’ at the side was accepted but the centre is unchanged, adorned by the blue plaque commemorating Princess Serafina Astafieva the dancer who taught there from 1916 to 1934, and the dramatic archway leading into the courtyard still stands.
The second campaign was a great deal more sensitive. Having failed to find a site in central London the large Polish community in Chicago set their hearts on erecting a memorial in the St. Luke’s Church Gardens to the victims of the Katyn massacre. This was a huge moral dilemma: to respect the wishes of the Poles or refuse to allow the Church and its gardens to be swamped by a towering black marble obelisk surrounded by pine trees. In the end, largely due to Quentin’s diplomacy- and obduracy- the Katyn Memorial found a home in Gunnersbury Cemetery in 1976.
And thirdly, on a happier note, there is Dovehouse Green. In the 70s this, the former burial ground, had become a dangerous haunt of drunks and druggies. For the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Quentin asked David Le Lay to design the new lay-out which you see today, and it was officially opened by Joyce Grenfell in 1977.
After Joyce Grenfell’s death, her husband gave daffodil bulbs to be planted in her memory. They survived for several years but sadly they are no more.
But Quentin had another Jove besides Chelsea. He had begun his career as a wine-merchant before training as a solicitor – a training which was to prove invaluable to him as Chairman – and his knowledge of wine and his widely regarded expertise led to him becoming Master of the Vintners’ Company in 1995, an honour which, his widow Helen says, probably gave him more satisfaction than any of his other notable achievements.
(Obituary by Jane Dorrell)