Last Saturday afternoon I attended the Memorial Service for the Rev. Professor Ernest Nicholson, Provost of Oriel from 1990-2003, which was held in St Mary's, the University Church, and one of the first endowments of Oriel in 1326.
Rev. Prof. Ernest Nicholson
There was a good congregation, comprising past and present Fellows of the college, former Oriel staff and students as well as friends alongside his family.
The three addresses, by Canon Noel Battye,who had been Chaplain of Pembroke Cambridge when the Provost was Dean of Chapel there, Peter Collett,who was a leading figure in the Oriel appeal under Ernest Nicholson and Canon Prof. John Barton, his successor as Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oriel, looked respectively at him as family man, Provost and scholar. The portrait they gave was, I think, very fair and nuanced, and the key phrase that emerged from all three, and with this I would entirely concur, was Provost Nicholson's kindness. Academia is not necessarily renowned for that, but it was a central feature of his being, and one I certainly remember with regard.
Afterwards there was tea in the Hall of college, and an opportunity to talk to both Mrs Nicholson and old friends.
An afternoon for remembrance, but not, I think, a sad one - I felt sure it was just the kind of occasion Ernest Nicholson would have enjoyed, old friends united in happy recollection of a life well lived.