Architectural Historian and Oxford University lecturer. Colvin came from a lowland Scots family, the son of Montagu Colvin, a Vickers Corporation executive and stamp dealer and Anne Winifred Colvin. As a youth, he won scholarships to a number of public schools, but his father selected Trent College, Nottingham, for him for financial reasons. There, he encountered a history master, Mike Morgan, who encouraged Colvin to visit churches instead of participating in athletics. Colvin's first architectural history paper, published in 1938 when only nineteen, was on Dale Abbey, Derbyshire.