Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Hole, Samuel Reynolds

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HOLE, SAMUEL REYNOLDS (1819–1904), dean of Rochester and author, born at Ardwick, near Manchester (where his father was then in business), on 5 Dec. 1819, was only son of Samuel Hole, of Caunton Manor, Nottinghamshire, by his wife Mary, daughter of Charles Cooke of Macclesfield. After attending Mrs. Gilbey's preparatory school at Newark, he went to Newark grammar school. Of literary tastes, he edited at sixteen a periodical called 'The Newark Bee.'

Foreign travel preceded Hole's matriculation from Brasenose College, Oxford, on 26 March 1840. Fox-hunting, to which he was devoted for fifty years, occupied much of his time at the university. He was, too, secretary of the Phoenix (the oldest social club in Oxford) in 1842, and presided at its centenary dinner on 29 June 1886. In 1847 he published a sprightly jeu d'esprit illustrative of Oxford life and recreation, entitled 'Hints to Freshmen.' He graduated B.A. on 25 May 1844 and proceeded M.A. on 23 May 1878.

Hole was ordained deacon in 1844 and priest in 1845. He became curate of Caunton in the former year, and was vicar from 1850 to 1887. In 1865 he was appointed rural dean of Southwell, and in 1875 prebendary of Lincoln. He was chaplain to Archbishop Benson from 1883, and in 1884 was elected proctor to convocation.

At Caunton he instituted daily services and never omitted a daily visit to the village school; but his clerical duties were varied by hunting, shooting; and other rural sports, and he was an enthusiastic gardener. After the death of his father in 1868 he was squire of Caunton as well as vicar, and his genial humour made him popular with all ranks.

In 1858 Hole came to know John Leech [q. v.], and a close friendship followed. In the summer of 1858 the two, who often hunted together, made a tour in Ireland, of which one fruit was Leech's illustrated volume, 'A Little Tour in Ireland' (1859), with well-informed and witty letterpress by 'Oxonian' (i.e. Hole). A reprint of 1892 gives Hole's name as author. Hole made many suggestions for Leech's pictures in 'Punch,' and much correspondence passed between them (cf. John Brown's Horæ Subsecivæ, 3rd ser., 1882, which contains Hole's biographic notes on Leech). Hole's friendship with Leech also led to his election to the 'Punch' table in 1862, but he was never a regular contributor to 'Punch,' only writing occasionally while Mark Lemon was editor. At Leech's house in Kensington Hole met Thackeray, who was, he wrote, of his own height (6ft. 3in.). The novelist proposed him for the Garrick Club. At Thackeray's invitation, too, Hole contributed to the 'Cornhill'; Dean Church quoted in the pulpit some verses by Hole there in the belief that they were by Hood.

Hole was long a rose-grower, and he came into general notice as promoter and honorary secretary of the first national rose show, which was hold in the old St. James's Hall on 3 July 1858. Thenceforth he was an enthusiastic organiser of flower-shows. At Caunton he grew upwards of 400 varieties of roses, and afterwards at Rochester had 135 in his deanery garden. He edited 'The Gardener's Annual ' for 1863, and came to know the leading horticulturists in France and Italy as well as at home. The establishment of the National Rose Society in December 1876 was largely due to his efforts; and his 'Book about Roses, how to grow and show them' (1869; 16th edition 1896), though of no great scientific value, did much to popularise horticulture. The work was translated into German and circulated widely in America. Hole presided at the National Rose Conference at Chiswick in 1889, and Tennyson, in writing to him, hailed him as 'the Rose King.' Hole's more general work on gardening, 'The Six of Spades' (i.e. the name of an imaginary club of six gardeners), appeared in 1872, and was reprinted, with additions, in 1892, as 'A Book about the Garden and the Gardener.'

A moderate high churchman, Hole proved popular as a preacher, especially to parochial home missions and as a platform orator. He spoke without notes. A rather raucous voice was atoned for by a fine presence, earnestness, plain language, and common sense. While he denounced drunkenness, gambling, and horse-racing, he frankly defended moderate drinking, at the Church Congress of 1892 (cf. The Dean and the Drink, by W. Kempster, 1892), and publicly justified the pla3nng of whist for small stakes. For several years he was a mid-day preacher at St. Paul's cathedral during Lent, and he was a select preacher at Oxford in 1885-6.

In 1887 Hole was made dean of Rochester. There his activity was undiminished. Besides popularising the cathedral services and continuing for a time his home mission work, he made in 1894 a four months' lecture tour in the United States, by which he raised 500l. for the restoration of his cathedral. He described his experiences in 'A Little Tour in America' (1895). The crypt and west front of Rochester cathedral were restored under Hole's supervision, the screen decorated, and vestries built. The new tower, which formed part of his plans, was erected after his death. Hole received the Lambeth degree of D.D. in 1887, was appointed almoner of the chapter of St. John of Jerusalem in 1895, and grand chaplain of Freemasons in 1897. In 1899 his brother masons placed a stained glass window in the clerestory at Rochester. His last sermon in the cathedral was preached on Christmas Day 1903; and he died at the deanery on 27 Aug. 1904. He was buried at Caunton.

Hole married, on 23 May 1861, Caroline, eldest daughter of John Francklin of Gonalston, Nottinghamshire, and Great Barford, Bedfordshire, by whom he had an only son, Samuel Hugh Francklin Hole (b. 1862), barrister-at-law. Inner Temple. A large portrait, painted by Charles Wellington Furse [q. v. Suppl. II], is at Caunton; and in Rochester cathedral there is a sculptured recumbent figure by F. W. Pomeroy, A.R.A. A cartoon appeared in 'Vanity Fair' (1895).

Hole was a humorous and charming letter-writer, sometimes embellishing his paper with clever sketches. His correspondents were of all classes, but they included Leech, Millais, Thackeray, Dr. John Brown, Dean Bradley, Sir George Grove, J. H. Shorthouse, and Archbishop Benson. A selection was edited by Mr. G. A. B. Dewarin 1907. Hole's 'Memories' (1892) are prolific in good stories and wise observation; frequently reprinted, they were included in 1908 in Nelson's Shilling Library. 'More Memories,' which followed in 1894, contains Hole's addresses in America, as well as early contributions to periodicals. Another rather more reflective volume of reminiscence, 'Then and Now,' 1901, was the author's favourite work. Hole wrote several hymns which were set to music by his friend Sir John Stainer. One of them, 'Father, forgive,' had a sale of more than 28,000, and realised nearly 100l. for the Transvaal war fund. 'Sons of Labour' is included in 'Hymns Ancient and Modern.' Besides the works above cited, and separate addresses and sermons, Hole published:

  1. 'Hints to Preachers; with Sermons and Addresses,' 1880.
  2. 'Nice and her Neighbours,' 1881 (an account of the Carnival).
  3. 'Addresses spoken to Working Men from Pulpit and Platform,' 1894.
  4. 'Our Gardens' (Haddon Hall library), 1899.
[Memoir by G. A. B. Dewar prefixed to Letters of Dean Hole, 1907; Hole's autobiograplucal works; Burke's Landed Gentry; Men of the Time, 1899; The Times, 29, 31 Aug., 1, 2 Sept. 1904; Guardian, 31 Aug.; Ohuroh Times, 2 Sept.; Gardeners' Ohronicle, 3 Sept. (with two portrait«)j Newark Advertiser, 31 Aug.; Nottingham Daily Express (portrait), 29, 30 Aug.; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses, 1888; F. Madan's A Century of the Phœnix Common Room; Brasenose Quatercentenary Monographs, 1910; A. C. Benson, Life of Archbishop Benson, 1899, i. 506-7; Overton and Wordsworth, Life of Bishop Christopher Wordsworth, 1888, pp. 260-3; Frith, John Leech, 1891, vol. ii. ch. 8; Spielmann, Hist. of Punch, 1895, pp. 362, 434; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Dean Pigou, Phases of My Life, pp. 355-6; private information.]

G. Le G. N.