A well respected art historian and author, who became an alcoholic and recluse, died months after the death of his partner, an inquest heard.

Ronald Parkinson, the former head of education and lecturer at the Victoria and Albert museum, was found dead at his home in Childebert Road, Tooting, on November 20, 2012.

On Thursday, Westminster Coroner’s Court was told he would not leave the house, drank heavily and suffered from depression – although his ailments were kept hidden to his family.

The coroner, Jean Harkin, said Mr Parkinson’s lifestyle and health deteriorated after the death of his partner, Derek Wiebkin, in March.

He was described as "creative, well-read and with a wonderful sense of humour".

The coroner's officer, Deborah Plant, said: "At some point, quite early in his career, he was drinking heavily and he was no longer reliable."

As a curator at the V and A, he was transferred to another department, but in 1998 accepted early retirement from the civil service with full pension.

Ms Plant added: "His drinking continued. He was no longer able to come and visit or receive visitors. He communicated by telephone only."

After his partner died in March, Mr Parkinson let himself deteriorate further, living solely in the living room and never entering the bedroom, the court heard.

At 2.40pm on November 20, his cousin Colin Barrett let himself into Mr Parkinson's house and discovered him barricaded in the living room, surrounded by empty takeaway boxes and cushions.

Despite extensive medical records which detailed a long history of depression and alcoholism, Mr Barrett said Mr Parkinson's family had no idea he had been heavily drinking for such a long time.

He said: "It was a complete mystery to the family. He was the last person to suffer from that kind of ailment.

“I'm not suggesting that the doctor's report is inaccurate, but it is a great surprise to us."

PC Ryan Adams, from Wandsworth police, told the court there was no evidence of foul play.

Dr Michael Heath, a pathologist, found no evidence that Mr Parkinson had taken alcohol or drugs before his death.

But did find he was suffering from coronary artery disease - his coronary artery was 80 per cent blocked.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Mrs Harkin said: “Mr Parkinson was a very well respected member of the community with a significant career behind him and that he very sadly appeared to deteriorate after the death of his partner.”