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Desmond Abel Smith

(1892-1974), Major and director

Sitter in 5 portraits

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Desmond Abel Smith, by Elliott & Fry - NPG x99970

Desmond Abel Smith

by Elliott & Fry
half-plate glass negative, 1951
NPG x99970

Desmond Abel Smith, by Elliott & Fry - NPG x99971

Desmond Abel Smith

by Elliott & Fry
half-plate glass negative, 1951
NPG x99971

Desmond Abel Smith, by Elliott & Fry - NPG x99972

Desmond Abel Smith

by Elliott & Fry
half-plate glass negative, 1951
NPG x99972

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JohnThornton

23 June 2021, 18:25

23 June 2021

I visited The Old Rectory in 1963. Juliet's father, Barry Barker was my best friend during our three years at Bretton Hall College of Education. Barry invited me to stay for a couple of nights during the holidays. I well remember the rookery to the side of the drive up to the house and the beautiful lawns and gardens. I stayed in one of the upper rooms and waking up on the first morning of my stay I drew back the curtains and watched the rabbits "playing" on the lawns below. Barry then took me on a tour of the grounds. It was a magical experience. I had never stayed in such a grand house before. I didn't meet Major Abel Smith but heard a lot about him from Barry. By the way, what a wonderful cook was Barry's mother, Major Abel Smith's housekeeper.

Juliet Smith

11 September 2020, 00:08

My Dad was the son of Major Abel Smith's housekeeper, Mrs Barker. My Gran lived and worked at the house for years and I spent a lot of my early childhood there. His wife, Mrs Abel-Smith was known to me as "GrandAunt" because she was my godmother, and later she taught me to do cross stitch. I remember seeing Major Abel Smith occasionally although I was very much "kept out of the way". The night he died, my mother was nursing him and the next morning my Gran took my brother, my friend Tara and out for a long walk with the dogs. On our return, a large black car passed us on the drive and my friend Tara asked "Why are they taking the Aga away?" Later I realised that what we had seen was Major Abel-Smith's coffin being taken away by the undertakers.