Fred Holland, Huntsman.
Huntsman for the Old Berks Hunt.
The Old Berks Hunt met at Kingston right up to 1935. The Kennels were at Kingston until 1935. Mr Farmer was the knackerman. The Huntsmen lived at Frax House until 1935/6. The Master of Fox Hounds lived at Southmoor House namely Paget, Stevens, Mills and Drake.
The Old Berks Hunt was the main thing in the village between the wars (up until 1936). It brought prosperity to the village and a colourful and often exciting life. Many well-known and wealthy people were seen here.
The Horses were kept everywhere where there were stables. The Duke of Windsor hunted with the Old Berks Hunt as Prince of Wales. Fred Holland was Huntsman most of the time and Mr. Paget-Steavenson was Master for 18 or 19 years. He was a wonderful person, a doctor whose wife had money and they lived at Southmoor House.
Captain McDougall was also Master and he lived at Tubney House.
Fred Holland was blinded in a hunting accident. He had the best medical treatment possible. He later went to Yorkshire, his home, and wrote a book about hunting. Mrs Ballard has a very good photo of Holland and Steavenson on horses in hunting clothes.
In Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890) Fred Holland is shown in 1885 working for the Bedale Hunt.
At the Stud Farm are the kennels of the Bedale Fox Hounds. The pack consists of forty-five couple, and has been located here since 1885. Capt. W. P. Wilson-Todd, master; Fred. Holland, huntsman. The farm is the property of W. Osborne, Esq., and occupied by Messrs. John and David Linton, the successful breeders of Leicester sheep and shorthorn cattle.
Tim Weaving on Hunting.
Interviewed 23rd August 2003
My Father, Guy Weaving had a wonderful life, probably no part better than the hunting from 1919-1930 under the Mastership of Paget-Steavenson and his famous huntsman Fred Holland.
He greatly enjoyed reminiscing about that golden era, and in particular his idol and close friend Fred Holland. During the celebrations of his 80th birthday my father said, “I shall not be here next year”, but lived to be 87.
Just after the First World War
The Master was Dr. Paget Steavenson, who had came south from the Hurworth [Yorkshire] to take over the Mastership of the Old Berks.
No Master of any hunt can ever have been more popular, and he was described to me by someone that remembered him well as a kind and aristocratic gentleman. But Paget Stevenson is also remembered for having brought with him his young huntsman Fred Holland, already regarded in his lifetime as one of the finest huntsmen in the country, and possibly ever.
In those days, the 20s and 30s, when 'antis' were completely unknown, hunting was as much a sport in the news as would be perhaps skiing or sailing today. As might have been expected, Country Life and The Field published articles about Fred Holland and interviews with him, but so too did the daily newspapers. Apart from that, hunting reports were published regularly in both local and national papers and the Illustrated London News actually published a Hunting supplement.
Paget Steavenson and Holland Letters.
I have been given access to the letters and other papers of Paget Steavenson and Holland. A selection may give you the utterly different tone of life in those days. A letter from a gentleman follower read:
‘Dear Master, I am told that I have offended you by being so rude as not to take off my hat to you. I simply cannot find words to express how very sorry I am that such a thing should have happened, and can only ask you to believe that this shocking lack of courtesy was absolutely unintentional. It is the last thing that I would have wished to happen as I have enjoyed hunting with your hounds more than any other season I have ever had, and this is such a very poor return for your kindness. I can only ask you, Sir, to accept my most humble apologies. Yours sincerely’,
A Huntsman's Diaries.
Guy Weaving's huntsman’s diaries and scrapbook tell of thirty couples of hounds going through Pusey Woods in the dark at 3.00 am on their way to a 5.00 am cubbing meet at Shrivenham with only the Huntsman and first whip, when a fox crossed the road just in front of them.
Away went the whole pack in full cry through the big wood while there was little the Huntsman could do except blow his horn.
Many of the locals must have thought hounds are about especially early this morning.
An extraordinary story is of a fox having killed a lot of chickens in Stanford in the Vale.
Fred writes: 'Finding this fox close by, hounds sent him along at a great pace, running for an hour and twenty minutes, only to return to the starting place, entering all the gardens and back yards, thinking to myself this bounder has beaten us yet again'.
Looking forward, I saw this cunning customer jump on to a low shed, on to another a little higher and from there on to the roof of a big house; running along the roof up on to the chimney and down he went!
Jim went up the stairs and bolted him back up and out of the chimney for all to see; down he came in exactly the same way that he went up and after another fast hunt the Stanford chickens were in less danger'.
There seem to be some discrepancies over dates here, but these snippets shown on the internet and books, are seemingly muddled because of two huntsmen, father and son, having the same name. They show details of William Fred Holland born in Bedale the son of William Fred Holland who was born in Clackmore, Buckinghamshire.
Fred Holland [son] was blinded by a branch of a tree in a hunting accident with the Old Berks in 1932. The Old Berks Hunt lost through blindness, the services of Fred Holland, a wonderful huntsman.
Fred Holland's father also Fred Holland who was Huntsman to the Bedale was a keen and cheerful man much liked by the farmers, who retired in 1902,[?] after twenty years' service.
Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes 1926.
One deserving professional, Fred Holland, [father] for over twenty years huntsman of the Bedale Hounds, has met his reward on his retirement from the hunting scene.
Source: Ron Carmichael’s notes in interview with Mrs Rachel Ballard,[nee Gregory] the widow of Frederick Ballard, the Kingston Bagpuize Blacksmith, 1st March 1970