Early life and first marriage -

BiograPhyle ®

Richard David Somerset Drew-Smythe 1920-1987
Married secondly 1965 Mary Georgiana Lewes (née Glyn) div. 1982 d.1992

Dicky Drew-Smythe's second marriage was to Mary Georgiana Lewes (née Glyn). They began married life together near Weymouth where she had been living at the time when she and Dicky first met. Mary had three young children - two sons and a daughter - by her previous marriage who spent some of the time with her at Fleet, just a short distance from the Chesil Beach. This latter strip of coast was in itself a major draw card for Dicky's children as it provided a diverting playground for games of piracy and exploration, using a particularly rotten punt which floated successfully - but for only half an hour at any one time. This problem was handled with perfect timing and no harm befell the adventurers but, had it been realised that these games of sea-borne make-believe were going on, adult caution would, no doubt, have seen the children clapped in irons and fed on a diet of dry biscuits and water for a week.

The wedding was in July. Dicky spent the first few months of the marriage dealing with his 'former life' in Cardigan - and, it is believed, Mary chose not to visit the area at any point during this time. A couple of months after the wedding, Mary had a car accident in Weymouth which, though not immediately serious, was sufficiently traumatic to bring on a miscarriage. It took her a long time to get over this sadness and although the intention over the next few years was for there to be children, no child was ever born of this marriage.

Fortified by borrowed capital and some sale proceeds from the house in Wales, Dicky and Mary bought Burcher Court, a large house between Kington and Presteigne on the Hereford/Radnor border. During a visit to the house just prior to completion of the sale, the family was welcomed to tea by the recently-widowed owner, Margaurite Few (Colonel F.J. Few died in 1965) who entertained them in the drawing room amongst the most cluttered but exceptionally fine Victorian drapes and furnishings. Tea was taken in an equally Victorian manner with the children 'glued' to one spot for fear of something being overturned or the slightest social gaff leading to the destruction of some priceless ornament - examples of which adorned the mantlepiece and almost every other available surface. For the children, in stepping through the drawing room door, it was as though they had entered a time-warp and they half expected to see butlers in livery, cooks and parlour maids swishing in and out of scene with accomplished grace and equal dexterity.

By October 1965, the sale process was complete and the family moved in. Each partner brought to the new marriage a single expectation: that the other would eventually be the source of wealth and thus provide some financial security. In the event neither became financially secure and both were disappointed. For several months, Dicky was out of work. He maintained his dog-breeding business then obtained work with Sea Products Research, dealing in stock feed mineral supplements. Afterwards, he was with Lever Bros., again in stock feed. His heart was not exactly in the job and he missed working directly with animals - under his own terms. Added to which, the large house was expensive to run and, apart from during the school holidays, it was lived in by just two people. Dicky's son and daughter were at boarding school - Clifton and Cheltenham Ladies College respectively - and Mary's children lived mostly with their father, near Lampeter, overlooking a particularly picturesque stretch of the river Teifi.

At Burcher Court - with its twelve acres or so and stable yard, there were the inevitable ponies - and dogs - and pheasants, ducks, geese, a couple of pigs and a succession of other livestock of either a pet or experimental income potential nature - or both. The dog population grew and Dicky's business, first started in Cardigan, expanded but it never actually produced the kind of income necessary to support the lifestyle they had imagined for themselves. They made a number of close friends in the area - the Yule family at Brampton Bryan and Roger and Joy Smythe who ran the excellent Norton Hotel for several years. Later neighbours (at Burcher Cottage) were Betty Kirk-Owen, her partner Richard Vernon and Betty's daughter by her first marriage, Alice Kirk-Owen, who married Antony Maitland. Antony's family line, it transpires, connects with that of the maternal line of the children of Dicky Drew-Smythe and his first wife, Jean Dionis Anstruther.

After a series of financial set-backs, Dicky and Mary sold up and moved in 1972 to a cottage smallholding near Llandovery in Wales. Almost at the same time, Dicky started work as an Inspector for the British Horse Society. He was responsible for inspecting Riding Schools in London and the Home Counties under the Riding Establishments Act. He also began working with The Donkey Sanctuary with its headquarters in Devon. From this point onwards he spent each week based in London and returned to Llandovery at weekends.

During 1975 he became involved with the filming of John Huston's 'The Man Who Would Be King' being made in Morocco. It is believed that somewhere in Morocco he still has a traditional Berber wife 'given' to him at the time - though quite what a more modern 'pc' view on this would be is open to conjecture - either way, the 'marriage' was never consumated and the thought of the young woman still waiting around for him is beyond contemplation. He made a number of location visits (accompanied by Mary on one occasion) and recognised this film-making experience as one of the highlights of his life.

Of necessity, he continued to work away from home for much of the time. A regular week away developed into a regular fortnight away and over the following few years, despite his offers to re-locate the marriage nearer to London, Mary chose to remain in Llandovery. They had acquired some Welsh Mountain brood mares and a particularly successful Welsh Mountain Stallion, 'Mylncroft Spun Gold', who won in major show rings and was in demand for stud work.

This stallion, together with the three or four excellent brood mares formed the basis for Mary's future. She developed a successful career from about 1979 onwards in association with Welsh Mountain ponies and later visited Australia and the United States to judge in the ring. In the fullness of time, the marriage broke down; the Llandovery smallholding was sold; a divorce became absolute in 1982. Some time before she finally sued for divorce, Mary had become associated with a local farmer and pony breeder. The relationship - personal and professional - lasted for several years. She died in 1992.

From his base in Chelsea, London, the home of his former mother-in-law, Babs Anstruther, Dicky had eventually moved (in about 1980) to a rented flat in Englefield Green, Surrey, where for a few seasons he was the Joint Master of the Windsor Forest Bloodhounds with Major Bill Stringer. Here, he met up again with an old racing rival - Charles Watson - from the Burma days. Once again he exercised his skills in selecting bloodlines and in the process of hunting hounds - of a different nature; but hounds nonetheless and this gave him great satisfaction. However, never one to cope with politics particularly well, there were fallings-out along the way and he eventually ceased his involvement.

He continued to work for the B.H.S. and H.A.P.P.A. (Horse and Pony Protection Association) and remained involved with the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon. He was an annual visitor to Earls Court for the show jumping and met friends at the Archery Tavern or dined at the Royal Barracks with friends from the Blues and Royals Regiment.

Despite a wide circle of old and new-found friends, it is suspected that Dicky led a somewhat disjointed and sometimes lonely life during these years and, though seldom actually physically alone - in the daytime at least - he lacked the shared companionship that so often blossoms after years of shared experience within a relationship. He became increasingly introspective and reliant upon his children for companionship and upon a small circle of close friends - ranging from two delightful 'surrogate daughters' to an elderly widow, Mary Bishop, who lived locally and who took Dicky completely under her caring domestic wing. At first, she relied upon him to host her dinner parties and this appealed to his sense of social decorum. He delighted in it but it very soon became a symbiotic arrangement - one that Dicky swore was entirely platonic; in fact, by this stage of his life he would often joke that he needed "a month's notice and a fire in the bedroom' for anything remotely energetic.

Mary Bishop, however, adored him. She saw to it that he was a frequent visitor, was well nourished - and had a television to watch when the Badminton Horse Trials were on or the latest release of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo was screened. Towards the end of his life Dicky had his own chair in the house and went there on a daily basis returning to the independence of his own, rather chaotic, flat - often via the Fox and Hounds at Bishopsgate on the fringe of Windsor Great Park where he was a regular and where he would hold court of a winter's evening with friends and family within warming range of its blazing log fire.Cousins - waiting for Grandad ...

A keen collector of rare and exotic parrots, he retired in 1985 to concentrate on his 'hobby' but succumbed to cancer and died in April 1987 at the home of friends in Devon whilst convalescing from major surgery. His memorial service was held at St. Jude's parish church in Englefield Green and the wake took place at The Fox and Hounds close by.

A mourner was heard to comment on this occasion, with a chuckle, that it had been a long time since Dicky had bought him a drink - to which Dicky no doubt replied - because that same guest nearly choked on his drink a moment later when the first sip went down the wrong way.

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