|Orleans, West Mersea
The Land Army girls had their headquarters in Orleans during the war and their efforts helped to cultivate the land by hard work amidst a war raging with death and destruction. Mrs Guthrie Smith was assisted in the development of rehabilitation apparatus by Mr Hawkins, her tenant of Garden Cottage, who having a natural flair for improvisation was able to translate rough sketches and descriptions into working reality. During the life of Mrs Guthrie Smith, Garden Cottage formed part of Orleans Estate, this she resolutely refused to sell to Mr Hawkins who with his wife Toddles held it on tenancy, and it was not until her sudden death that he was able to purchase from
the executor and put in hand alterations including the development of a garden from what had been a rubbish heap.
Site now occupied by flats
Legend of haunted garden steps washed every mid-summer day as a precaution against
calamity for occupant of house.
Mrs O. Guthrie Smith and her cousin partner Miss Smith (an M.D. in her own right)
Mrs O. Guthrie Smith lived in India for many years where her husband held high
While on a visit to her step mother in London in 1957 Mrs Guthrie Smith died suddenly in
her sleep, being brought back to Mersea for a funeral service in the Parish Church
attended by many members of the medical and kindred professions. Cremated at Ipswich
(there being no facilities at Colchester). Her ashes were returned to Orleans and
scattered on the garden terrace.
Miss Smith who inherited the property survived some eighteen months and being
cremated at Colchester her ashes were also scattered on the terrace.
Mrs Guthrie smith was medically renowned for her research into and the development of
springs in the rehabilitation of the incapacitated with special reference to war wounds. Working for a time at Stoke Mandeville, whe was awarded the OBE for her work amonth civilian bomb victims. Details and illustrations of her methods and cases can can be found in her book .......
Medical appreciation of her work in the Paddington area was expressed by the new library at St. Mary's Hospital being called The Guthrie Smith Library wherein will be a painting of her presented by Miss Smith.
Orleans was a gracious house, its demolition being a tragedy. It was sold excluding Garden Cottage and the plot where now stands Kings Hard for £10,000, a demolition contractor tearing it down for salvage value.
The 1939 Register gives us an interesting picture of Orleans. Living there as expected are Olive and Isabel, physiotherapists. But there are also a Teacher and three Students of Massage Medical Gymnastics, plus a Cook.