Jean and Dicky were married on 2nd. September 1949 - and began farming at Field Farm in the village of Minety, Wiltshire - where Jean also began her veterinary practice attached to the Animal Health Division of the Ministry of Agriculture.
She specialised in large farm animals, pitting herself not only against the science itself but also against the gender barrier put up by many of the local famers. Most of her work was centred round the T.B. Eradication Scheme. It is a mark of her professionalism and character that she earned both the admiration and the respect of her clients within a short space of time.
In 1950 she became a mother for the first time. It was not an easy pregnancy and it was also a complicated birth. She was looked after by her father-in-law who was an eminent gynaecologist in Bristol. Within a few years her second child was born and shortly after that the family moved to Bodenham, near Leominster in Herefordshire. Here, Dicky was employed by the North Hereford Hunt as Master. Jean too became a hunt servant as well as continuing as a Ministry of Agriculture vet for the area. They lived at first at Green Park - the home farm of Hampton Court , the seat of the Devereux family.
Afterwards, following the death of her father in 1956, Jean bought Tankard Walls - still in Bodenham but closer to England's Gate, a well-known (and oft- frequented) Free House (as it was then) just down the road. Tankard Walls was also nearer to the hunt kennels. The family was joined at this time by Mrs. Lewis - who became both nanny and housekeeper - and her daughter, Frances. Jean and Dicky lived at Tankard Walls until 1959 when an opportunity arose to reconstitute the Tivyside Hunt near Cardigan in West Wales.
Throughout this period of their lives, they became much loved members of the rural Herefordshire community and Jean's reputation as a strong horsewoman and respected vet was further underscored by the esteem in which she was held. They made and kept many friends in the area and both their children began their primary schooling at the village school at Hope-under-Dinmore, on the Leominster side of the fast-running River Lugg.
One of the highlights of their last few months with the North Hereford was the 1959 Grand National win by local jockey, Michael Scudamore. There was a celebration dinner on Monday 13th April at the Farmers' Club in Hereford. In fact, between April and July, Jean - and Dicky - attended many dinners! They were farewelled with many generous gifts and good wishes. A silver hunting horn, presented by the North Hereford Hunt Committee to "The Captain" was a treasured possession.
Tankard Walls was sold and, with some additional help from Jean's mother, Babs, they bought Glandovan, a property in West Wales, near Cardigan, on the Pembroke border. At that time, Babs Anstruther was an intrepid motorist and thereafter became a frequent visitor, setting out in all weathers from her London home on many a meticulously planned, cross-country progress - in the true Elizabethan sense of the word - taking in the many homes and branches of her extended family.
Glandovan, the house and estate, has a long history and its records may be found at the National Library of Wales in Cardiff. Its foundations date back to the early middle ages. In later years it is believed to have been associated with the Gower family and may have been used as the 'Dower House' to the Castle Malgwyn Estate at Llechryd - which also has an illustrious history and which is now a comfortable and well-appointed hotel. Some of the history of Castell Malgwyn (with material from the Glandovan Collection at NLW) may be explored through the work of Bob Lester, the historian and Hon. Archivist of Castle Malgwyn ephemera and photographs.
Glandovan, with its generous 13th century foundations, large stable yard, woodlands and its considerable acreage of grazing, was ideal for Jean and Dicky. Adjacent to the property there was also a small two-bedroomed cottage (Dormy Cottage) and this was set aside for the partner in their venture, Major Chetwode Charles Hamilton Hilton-Green. He was called "Chatty" for short; but most people just called him 'The Major'.
The family arrived at Glandovan in the summer of 1959 with a convoy of cars, trailers and horse boxes.They brought with them a small breeding nucleus of foxhounds, carefully selected to provide for the type of terrain and style of hunting to be encountered. This group was gradually augmented by other hounds, many of them traditional, rough-coated Welsh hounds. These in turn were joined by others, gifted to the hunt or supplied by Major Hilton-Green from both Ireland and England. Jean's experience and knowledge of genetics, combined with Dicky's flair for judging a 'winner' - in the animal world at least - made for a very solid base on which to build the new pack. The Major's knowledge of hound pedigrees and his recourse to working capital completed the picture. From the bulk of his own funds, he had new kennels built for the hounds in Cilgerran (on the Abercych road) and a full season began. Subsequently, he made over the kennels to the Tivyside in a Deed of Gift, but whilst the intent was more than generous, in doing so he precipitated a financial crisis when he died a few short years later - quite soon after Dicky had become a widower. Others had also contributed capital to the kennels project on promise of settlement from the Major but were ultimately unable to gain redress from his estate.
In the meantime, Jean also began her work as a Ministry vet, travelling many miles each week to reach the often isolated smallholdings in her area, continuing with T.B. testing under the Ministry's Eradication scheme. At this time also, the family was joined by Joan Hart and her daughter, Susan. Joan helped with the children and the house while Grampy Williams, a local character and something of a horse whisperer, worked in the stables, mainly looking after the fine old thoroughbred stallion, 'Mytholm' - the sire of many celebrated hunters and point-to-pointers in his time. Grampy Williams was helped by his grandson, Owen, who, in later years also took over the care of Mytholm. Beryl Beynon came to help in the kitchen - and the Alsatians helped themselves to her on occasion; not seriously, apparently - but they used to enjoy sneaking up on her when her back was turned at the sink.
With Jean as the supervising veterinarian, Dicky also began a dog breeding business, keeping a wide variety of breeds and selling the progeny all over England and abroad. Many of the children's contemporaries - and older ones too - would still remember Sheba, the very large, jet black Newfoundland-Great Dane cross, who would greet visitors to the stable yard with words ... of great passion and encouragement.
Over a period of several months, the horse population at Glandovan increased - importantly with the acquisition of two horses - 'The Ridler' and 'Masterpiece', acknowledged at the time to have been two of the finest hunters of the day - joined also by new ponies for the children. With the reconstitution of the Tivyside Hunt and with so many new, younger riders in the area, Jean recognised an immediate need to cater for them in other ways besides (her words) "the hit and miss training ground of the hunting field". With Coralie Humfrey, Elaine and E.J. Jones (who had himself been a Master of the Tivyside in a previous decade) - and several other dedicated people - Jean became the driving force behind the inauguration of the Tivyside Pony Club. The first meeting to set this all in motion was held early in 1960. Jean was elected as the club's first District Commissioner - a position taken on by Dicky, after her untimely death in 1961. The Club has thrived long after her death, growing and surviving as something of a legacy to her original vision and determination.
As the stable duties increased and Jean's veterinary commitments expanded, a number of helpers and friends rallied round - Elspeth (Elly) Tosh notably, a bundle of fun and adored by the family and Alma Merralls, whose family originally came from Essex. She stayed with the family until 1965. She remained the dearest and most loyal member of the extended family after Jean's death.
During her time at Glandovan, Alma owned two of the more notable point-to-pointers of the time - "Pelly" and 'Cuban Pride'. She raced, she rode out exercise and she showed the ponies and the hunters - and yet still found time to help the children prepare, parade and perform with their own ponies, Thellwell-style, in each local arena. Alma later married Glen James and created national headlines with the birth of triplet boys, all of whom survived.
During the latter months of 1960, Jean experienced a very serious road accident whilst on the way to a veterinary visit. She never fully recovered from this mishap but was eventually able to resume her work as a vet and to hunt. However, early in the following year, she contracted chicken pox which then developed into pneumonia and she was admitted to hospital. After further nursing complications she fell victim to 'acute post infectious encephalitis' and died at Hill House Hospital, Sketty (Swansea) early in the morning of April 6th., 1961. She was aged just 33.
Jean was buried in the Anstruther Grave at Whitchurch in Buckinghamshire. In a more modern - and more litigious - era, it would not have been unreasonable to expect some clear answers as to the nursing circumstances surrounding the tragic loss of this bright star; consummate professional, daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend - her loss is no less for all the forty years between.
Still living and still a valued friend to second and third generations of the family, Rex Hudson wrote this obituary for the 'Horse and Hound' magazine of May 20th 1961.Mrs. J.D. Drew-Smythe, B.Sc., M.R.C.V.S. The death took place recently, following a short illness, of Mrs. Jean Dionis Drew-Smythe, of Glandovan, Cilgerran, Pembroke, at the early age of 33.
Born on September 3rd. 1927, the daughter of Major and Mrs. Douglas Anstruther of Redbourn, Hertfordshire, Jean's love of hunting was fostered by the Hertfordshire Foxhounds and this love, as befitted a descendant of Anstruther-Thomson, remained with her not so much as part of her life, but as life itself. Entering the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College, Edinburgh at the age of 17, Jean secured her B.Sc. in Veterinary Science and was later elected a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Whilst at Edinburgh, Jean met Richard Drew-Smythe and they were married in September 1949.
Jean and Dick farmed at Minety in Wiltshire and Jean soon built up an enviable reputation. They moved to Herefordshire in 1955 and to Cilgerran in 1959 when her husband, with Major C.C. Hilton Green, resuscitated the Tivyside Hunt.
A superb horsewoman, Jean had a great sympathy and could get a horse to go kindly and to give as she was prepared to give. As at home in the show ring as in the hunting field, she helped many people in her short life to appreciate and to love the horse and the hound and did much to shear off some of the "mumbo-jumbo" of equitation in the way that the top-flight performer always does, no matter in what field.
As a hostess, Jean had the ability not only to make you feel at home, but to make a complete stranger feel after ten minutes that he had always been a friend. Finally, as a friend - to me and to many others - life has lost something of its savour with Jean leaving it. Always the same, kind, generous soul, she was, for one so young, a fount of wisdom ... there passes from this life a remarkable person.
Rex Hudson pictured in 2004 with Jessi Jean Drew-Smythe.
Family © April 2001