Denton a village in South Norfolk, England

Lady Bridget Darell - 1928 to 2018

From the Parish News – November 2018

A large congregation attended the memorial service held in St Mary’s Church, Denton on Thursday 13th September in memory of Lady Bridget Darell. The service was officiated by the Rector, the Rev Christopher Hutton. Many relatives of Sir Jeffery and Lady Bridget took part in the service with an address by their son Guy, a tribute by grandson Harry Darell and readings by six other grandchildren. Also, the anthem “Panis Angelicus” was sung by Tamara Astor and Madeline Adeane. After the service the congregation were invited to Denton Lodge for refreshments.

Bridget Darell was born in London in 1928 and as her father was in the army she had a rather magical childhood in the 1930s, growing up in Egypt for several years where her favourite childhood memory was buying sugar cane from the street sellers and eating it in the shadow of the Pyramids. She came back to England just before the war and when the blitz started she was evacuated to St. Giles School in Dorset as London was deemed too dangerous. She made lifelong friends there and two years ago there was a reunion where about twenty classmates turned up, all aged in excess of 85.

Her father, Major General Sir Allan Adaire, commanded the Guards Armoured Division, and her future husband, Jeffery Darell also fought with that regiment but in a much more lowly capacity as a subaltern. Bridget had a wonderful understated way of stating the obvious and when she was asked if Sir Jeffery would like to go back to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of VE day, she replied that he didn’t want to go as he didn’t have much fun last time when he was there. (Jeffery was sent to France with the Guards Armoured division at the outbreak of war in 1939 and was brought home with the Dunkirk evacuation which he described as the worst experience of his life. He later took part in the Normandy invasion).

In 1948 her father inherited Flixton Hall, where she had spent much of her childhood - she always regarded that area as her home. In 1953 she married Jeffery and once again had an itinerant army life in Germany and the UK - their two daughters, Katherine and Camilla, and their son Guy were born in Germany and London. Following Sir Jeffery’s retirement in the mid-1970s the family moved to Denton Lodge on the basis that Bridget always had a strong pull to the area from her Flixton childhood days.

She was very much a country person - she loved gardening, walking the dogs, caring for the animals and was soon entering into village life. She and Sir Jeffery quickly became involved with church affairs and it was not long before Jeffery took on the role of churchwarden with Bridget helping in the background with fund raising activities. Several fetes were held in the beautiful surroundings of Denton Lodge gardens. She also played the organ to accompany the hymns at both St Mary’s Church and Denton Chapel.

When the call for volunteer drivers went out for the Community Bus, Bridget gained her PSV licence and became a regular driver with the team. Her caring attitude also came to the fore when her sympathy was extended to members of the community who had suffered bereavement or other sadness. She loved parties and people and was always one of the last to go to bed at family events - even at the Christian Aid Quiz night last year she was helping the family team with answers that no one else on the table knew.

She was a very special person who definitely thought of others much more than herself and very much lived by the Christian motto of “do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you”. Denton Parish was indeed fortunate to be graced with the presence of Sir Jeffery and Lady Bridget when they chose to settle here for their final years and we give thanks for their gracious and generous spirit.

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