Skip to main content

The Papers of Sir Roger Stevens

Reference Code: GBR/0014/STVS

Scope and Contents

The principal interest of this collection lies in the day-to-day picture it presents of diplomatic life. Throughout his life Stevens sent lively and detailed letters home to his parents from his foreign postings as he did to his first wife, Constance, in the intervals when they were apart. These are full of vivid accounts of places visited and events witnessed, reflections on issues of the moment at the time and discerning descriptions of the people he was meeting in Argentina, the United States, Sweden, Paris, Antwerp, Rhodesia [later Zambia and Zimbabwe], Nyasaland [now Malawi] and Persia [now Iran]. The letters are supplemented by journals and diaries that Sir Roger kept throughout his life. An interesting example is Sir Roger's diary from 1962 (STVS 8/25 b) which documents his tour of South Africa and includes his observations on colonial policy and administration and newspaper cuttings regarding his view of apartheid. From his time as Ambassador to Persia, Sir Roger gained a passionate interest in the people, art and history of that country and the collection contains the notes he used in writing two books on Persia, "The Land of the Great Sophy" and a work on seventeenth century European travellers in Persia originally entitled "Persian Bandwagon" but renamed by Sir Roger after the revolution which overthrew the Shah as "First View of Persia". These documents are complemented by the many photographs Sir Roger took whilst travelling Persia which depict the people, art, architecture and scenery of the country (STVS 12). This also includes photographs taken throughout Stevens' life of his youth, his diplomatic role as Ambassador to Sweden and Persia, his role as Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University and his later life. The collection also includes speeches, notes, book reviews, lectures and articles written by Stevens after his retirement from the Foreign Office on topics including the Middle East, Iran and Persia (STVS 9). There are in the collection some letters, press cuttings and speeches relating to Sir Roger's Vice-Chancellorship of Leeds University (STVS 11) and also copies of reports by a number of committees to which he belonged after his retirement from the Foreign Office. However the bulk of the material of this later period relates to his membership of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal (UNAT), including several judgements delivered by this body. Two interesting items in the collection are Sir Roger's account of the attacks on British ships at Alicante and of the events in Valencia when he spent a brief period there during the Spanish Civil War (STVS 1/25) and the correspondence and notes he was compiling on Sir William Strang (STVS 10) with a view to writing his biography shortly before his own death in 1980.


  • Creation: 1905 - 1981

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Roger Stevens was born 8 June 1906. In 1928 he entered the Consular Service and served in Buenos Aires, New York, Antwerp, Denver, and the Foreign Office. In 1931 he married Constance Hallam Hipwell (died 1976) and they had a son. Stevens held the following positions: Secretary of British Civil Secretariat, Washington, 1944-1946, at the Foreign Office, 1946-1948, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office, 1948-1951, British Ambassador Sweden, 1951-1954, British Ambassador to Persia, 1954-1958, Deputy Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office, 1958-1963, and Advisor to First Secretary of State on Central Africa, 1963-1970. In 1962 Stevens published 'The Land of the Great Sophy' (reprinted 1971). He was also Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University, 1963-1970, Chairman of Yorks and Humberside Economic Planning Council, 1965-1970, a member of the Panel of Inquiry into Greater London Development Plan, 1970-1972, Chairman of the Committee on Mineral Planning Control, 1972-1974, and a member of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal, UNAT, 1972-1977. In 1977 he married Jane Chandler (nee Irving). Sir Roger Stevens died 20 February 1980.


35 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

This catalogue is available at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the National Register of Archives, London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Sir Roger Stevens were deposited in Churchill Archives Centre by his widow, Lady Stevens in 1984. Further material was deposited by Stevens' stepson Nigel Chandler in 2010, 2013 and 2020.


This collection (fonds) level description and catalogue of the papers was compiled by Louise King of Churchill Archives Centre in March 2005, using information from the original catalogue produced in 1984. This was updated by Natalie Adams in January 2010. The catalogue was further updated by Philip Cosgrove in July 2013 to incorporate the new material deposited in 2010 and 2013.


Stevens, Sir Roger Bentham, 1906-1980, knight, diplomat

2005-03-18 10:13:41+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087