In memory of former Brookes lecturer John Stevens
John Stevens 1938-2009
John was born in London in 1938, and in 1939 went with his parents and sister, Colette, to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), where his father was a District Officer, and his early years were spent there.
In 1946, the family, now six in number, returned to Jersey, and in 1947, John went to prep school in England while the rest of the family returned to Africa. In 1949, his father retired and the family was reunited in Jersey. His mother, who came from an old Jersey family, later became well known as author of a 2 volume work about old Jersey houses.
In 1951 John went to Winchester College, which he hated, but where he won prizes for art and carpentry and became an accomplished bookbinder. In 1956, he became a student at the Oxford School of Architecture, then part of the College of Technology, (now Oxford Brookes University), becoming an ARIBA in 1962. During one summer vacation he actually worked on the building site of what is now the Abercrombie Building, and carried many hundredweight sacks of cement.
He later returned to the School to teach, being promoted to senior lecturer in 1970. He was a natural teacher, with great enthusiasm for his subject, who considered that students, rather than pure 'admin', were the raison d'etre of higher education, and they in turn greatly appreciated his care and energy. He was a conscientious member of staff and was always involved in course development in the School of Architecture.
He was greatly missed by staff and students when he left in 1984 to return to Jersey to help his mother and sister convert a farmhouse. Retirement allowed him to pursue his passion for vernacular architecture, and he lived variously in Frome, Oxford, Norfolk and Ludlow. His particular research interests were the Medieval Hall House and Medieval Hunting Lodges, and he corresponded with fellow enthusiasts in long letters and telephone calls.
He was a person of considerable charm, looks, social graces, taste and intelligence, who had a strong 'feminine side' and got on well with young people. He was married three times. He died peacefully in Ludlow on 22 September 2009 at the age of 71.