RIP Peter Mackenzie-Smith

Peter Mackenzie-Smith talking about wartime Rye

We regret to learn of the death of Peter Mackenzie-Smith on Thursday, August 20. Peter had been a Winchelsea resident since 1951 and he enjoyed an active career with the British Council at home and overseas in the Middle East and Africa, building cultural and educational relationships and his last job for the British Council was as its director for Africa and South Asia.

He then worked for GEC Marconi as director of education. He was the British government’s first trade advisor for education and training and was chairman of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce Charitable Foundation.

He became a trustee of the Rye Arts Festival in 2013 with responsibility for sponsorship, advertising, and art exhibitions. As part of the festival heritage events, he led a series of second world war history tours round the town that proved so popular that they were repeated for a second year. He was a regular attender at St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church.

John Minter writes: I knew Peter as a keen croquet player and he was often to be seen on the croquet lawn at Rye Tennis Club on Sunday morning, small cigar in his mouth and old, battered tennis club mallet in hand and invariably demonstrating an expert and skilled level of play to the rest of us, but always charming and modest with it. One weekend he was not able to play and we heard later that he had ‘been playing golf croquet against locals in Egypt’! Although I don’t think that was the primary reason he was there. During the annual summer tennis tournament, when croquet was not possible at the club, play emigrated to Peter’s house in Winchelsea and a challenging croquet lawn set up in his garden – always enjoyable mornings, and made more so by the generous hospitality of Peter and Sandra.

We give our condolences to his wife Sandra and family.

Image Credits: Rye News Library .


  1. I joined one of Peter’s history tours during the festival a couple of years ago. It was the most interesting and engaging guided walk I have ever experienced.
    At work the following week I was recounting one of his stories about German planes strafing people on the streets of Rye and how, on one occasion, a mother and one of her two daughters were hit whilst walking in Ferry Road. They survived but spent a long time in Rye Hospital. The elderly lady who I was telling this to exclaimed “that was me!!”. She was the daughter who had escaped injury. I was then able to read the hospital log book from that time and found the record of her mother and sister.
    Thank you so much Peter.

  2. Peter was on the Rye Festival Committee just after my stint in the early 2000s. He was keen , very thorough and dependable. I was sorry not to have worked with him. His guided walks were superbly researched, and very popular.
    I was sorry that he did not stay long enough on the committee, he would have made a superb leader. He was always interesting and pleasant.
    Very best wishes to his family.

  3. I too enjoyed his history tours and got to know Pater and Sandra as good friends. When I was writing my book on Rye and Winchelsea, every so often he would phone and say “do you know about this?” I never did, and his suggestions immensely improved my work. We shall miss him sorely.

  4. Peter Mackenzie Smith’s parents were good friends of my mother. My sister and I spent happy holidays staying with the family in Winchelsea in the 1950s, they were very kind. The sad news of his death brings back happy memories of that time and I send condolences to his family and love to his siblings Jane and Duncan, who were our childhood playmates.


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