Trinity Term

A memoir from the St Theosevia Centre

As the Director of the St Theosevia Centre for Christian Spirituality, I wish to express thanks for Nicholas as an historian of Christian art and architecture who combined his extensive knowledge with a rare theological understanding of his subject matter.

Nicholas travelled widely, and was an excellent photographer, so his talks were lavishly illustrated with slides. There are people here today who attended his classes on mediaeval or Byzantine art, or travelled with him on tours to diverse places: it might be Ethiopia, Sicily, Istanbul, southern Spain, Romania – and to great cathedrals and churches here in Britain.

He brought the fruits of these tours to share in the Study Day programmes at the St Theosevia Centre for Christian Spirituality in Canterbury Road. The Centre was born in the mid-1980s out of a desire for an ecumenical centre in Oxford that would promote understanding between the churches, and in particular between eastern and western Christianity.  Its usual programme consists of two or three Study Days in each University term.

For many years, Nicholas was a mainstay of the Study Days. He could always be relied on to have a fresh topic, or a new slant on an old one, ready to present.  Each day features three talks between 10.30 am and 4 pm, usually by different speakers. When Nicholas led a day however, he would usually gave all three talks. He always attracted a keen audience, and was good fun at lunch with organizers and Trustees!

Looking through our archive, and merely going back to 2007, we find him speaking on Syria, its architecture, history and life; Coptic Egypt; the mediaeval art and architecture of Armenia and Georgia, or of Serbia and Macedonia; Art and liturgy in the mosaics of Ravenna; the Byzantine churches of Cyprus; the Byzantine mosaics of Sicily, the Romanesque architecture of Normandy; the art and architecture of Holy Russia; angels in Byzantine art; and the churches of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hampshire, and Worcestershire – for these too are just as exotic, just as full of meaning, just as worthy of fresh exploration. His last Study Day was on the painted churches of Romania, given in June 2019.

Nicholas had the gifts of an excellent speaker and teacher. We miss him, but give thanks to God for all that he learned and shared with us.

And on behalf of St Theosevia’s, may I thank you warmly for your contributions in memory of Nicholas to the St Theosevia Trust, which are enabling us to build a much needed new website and to archive the records of these events.

Revd Dr Liz Carmichael MBE, Director, St Theosevia Centre for Christian Spirituality,

Oxford, for Nicholas’s Memorial Service at Blackfriars on 25 November 2022.