Following an education in the course of which I gained an Open Exhibition in Modern History at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and a BA (Hons) in Modern Chinese at the University of London, I worked at GCHQ from 1950 to 1983 and, for my final five years (1978-83) was GCHQ's Director.
After retirement, I became a Consultant and, together with my wife, established a two-person Company (Cresswell Associates), which advised a number of Firms on their dealings with Government Departments. However, since my early forties, I have been looking at and learning about pictures, sculptures and buildings, with particular reference to Italian works of art from the 13th to the 17th centuries, and have long since promised myself - and my wife - that I would eventually don the mantle of an art historian.
Thus it came about that, since 1999, I have devoted myself to an independent programme of research, partly at the Warburg Institute (University of London), and partly at the British Institute of Florence, where I am a Visiting Fellow.
In 2005, I completed the editing of an Index of Filippo Baldinucci's Notizie, which was originally compiled by Philip Pouncey, one-time Deputy Head of the British Museum's Prints and Drawings Department; this was published by the Florentine publisher, Centro Di.
I have also produced a short, and designedly 'popular' work on Michelangelo; this is with my Literary Agent, with a view to publication. I have also published several articles in art-historical journals, and have given lectures and classes at the British Institute of Florence.
I am currently working on a 'Life and Times of Filippo Baldinucci, 1625-1697'. This remarkable individual - not only an art historian but financial adviser to various well-heeled Florentine families - was devoted to his wife and five sons, of whom three became Priests (including one who was later beatified) and whose Diary shows him to have been a noteworthy exemplar of lay spirituality a century after the Council of Trent.