A Collection of Medals formed by the Reverend Canon Nigel Nicholson, OStJ, DL

Date of Auction: 16th April 2020

Sold for £600

Estimate: £400 - £500

A most interesting Order of St. John group of nine awarded to Brigadier O. W. Nicholson, Royal Corps of Signals, late Rifle Brigade, who Commanded the 40th and 51st Anti-Aircraft Brigades during the Second World War; in the inter-War years he served as Member of Parliament for the Abbey Division of Westminster, defeating the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the 1924 by-election by just 43 votes, and was later appointed Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead - the sinecure position later held by the future Prime Ministers Anthony Eden, David Cameron, and Boris Johnson

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Officer’s (Brother’s) breast badge, silver and enamel, with heraldic beasts in angles; 1914-15 Star (2. Lieut. O. W. Nicholson. Rif. Brig.); British War and Victory Medals (2. Lieut. O. W. Nicholson); Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Jubilee 1935; Coronation 1937; Efficiency Decoration, G.VI.R., 1st issue, Territorial, reverse officially dated 1942, with two Additional Award Bars and integral top riband bar, mounted court-style by Spink, London, as worn, and housed in a Spink, London, leather case, lacquered, good very fine (9) £400-£500


Commander, Order of St. John, London Gazette 1 January 1946

Otho William Nicholson was born in Marylebone, London, on 30 November 1891, the son of Colonel the Rt. Hon. William Nicholson, and was educated at Harrow and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, on 15 August 1914, and served during the Great War on the Western Front from 5 June 1915, before transferring to the Wireless Intelligence Section of the Royal Engineers.

Following the cessation of hostilities Nicholson entered politics, serving as Mayor of Finsbury from 1923-24, before being elected Member of Parliament for the Abbey Division of Westminster in the by-election of 1924- standing as the official conservative candidate, he defeated the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill, who, upset that he had not been chosen as the Conservative candidate, stood as an independent ‘Constitutionalist’ candidate, by 8,187 votes to 8,144 votes. He retained the seat in the forthcoming General Elections, and held his seat until 4 July 1932, when he was disqualified by virtue of being appointed Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead (a peculiarity of the United Kingdom’s unwritten constitution is that Members of Parliament cannot resign, but can engineer their own disqualification by accepting this obscure sinecure- future incumbents of the Stewardship included Prime Ministers Anthony Eden, David Cameron, and Boris Johnson).

Advanced Honorary Colonel, 1st Anti-Aircraft Divisional Signals, Royal Corps of Signals (Territorial Force), Nicholson was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex in July 1938, and served during the Second World War as Brigadier Commanding the 40th and 51st Anti-Aircraft Brigades, receiving his Efficiency Decoration in 1942. He latterly held the post of Assistant Commandant at the School of Anti-Aircraft Artillery at Shrivenham.

On 2 March 1948 Nicholson was one of the only survivors when a Sabena Airlines DC3 aircraft crashed on landing at London Heathrow Airport- of the 21 people on board only 3 survived. He died in Ringwood, Hampshire, on 29 June 1978.