Lord Alistair McAlpine

Alistair McAlpine passed away this week in Italy. Some years ago, I spent a few days at his beautiful 'B&B' (if you can call it that) in Puglia, Convento di Santa Maria di Constantinopoli, with him and his Greek wife, Athena. The Convento has stayed with me as a source of enormous inspiration for all these years, and will continue to be so. His was a very 'complete' home full of colour, texture, light, collected items and art, and generously provisioned with the simplest and best luxuries: home-grown food, company, music, warmth, crisp linen beds and Penhaligon bath oils. In this month's World of Interiors you will find the garden belonging to the Convento, which is an equivalent botanical wonder. 

Alistair was deeply engaging and charismatic. And eccentric. I particularly liked the Guardian's description of how, 'on arriving in Venice, he bought a small castello behind the Arsenale, had his own motor launch and would meet guests at the airport dressed in a black coat and black broad-brimmed hat in the style adopted by an earlier Venetian resident, Frederick Rolfe, "Baron Corvo".

A fine, inspiring man.