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Fly Fishing, the Old Rectory & the Dreaded Minibus – Memories of a Country Parish

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We’re most grateful to Sarah Billings. Inspired by our appearance on BBC Countryfile, Sarah shared her memories of life at South Ormsby Estate in the 1970s during the tenure of the Squire – Adrian Massingberd-Mundy.

Sarah’s father, the Reverend Canon Peter Fluck, was parson at South Ormsby from 1974 to 1984. The bishop had wanted to house him at Tetford Rectory, but the Rev. Fluck held out for the Old Rectory at South Ormsby which offered more space for his young family. While the bishop generally appointed parsons, at South Ormsby the job was in the gift of Adrian Massingberd-Mundy of South Ormsby Hall.

The Old Rectory certainly turned out to be a fine family home. The Flucks kept a cow called Charlotte as well as goats, chickens and big meat rabbits. They even had a barn (since pulled down) at their disposal and became very self-sufficient in their secluded corner of the Wolds.

Adrian Massingberd-Mundy & Sarah Billings

In the early-mid 1970s, Sarah was just going away to university and her three younger brothers were between 10 and 12 years of age. Adrian Massingberd-Mundy, then in middle age, was an enthusiast for country sports, especially fishing. He stocked up the Hall’s lake with trout to indulge his passion for fly-fishing, even though he reputedly didn’t like to eat trout himself.

Adrian taught all of Sarah’s brothers to fly-fish. He was endlessly patient with them, teaching a range of techniques ranging from tying their own ties to cleaning their catches. For a family of six, a supply of fresh trout was most welcome. Sarah herself only got chance to fish during holidays from university, when she would walk down with a brother or two to learn a little about fishing for herself.

Sarah recalls a BBC documentary series in the mid-1970s featuring countrymen and their jobs. The Rev. Fluck’s role as a country parson was the subject of one episode and Adrian made several appearances.

Sarah also remembered that South Ormsby was the subject of a book, ‘The South Ormsby Experiment: An Adventure in Friendship’, written by Arch-Deacon Arthur Smith in 1960. Under Smith’s system, a curate might be responsible for three or four churches. The Rev. Fluck took on his parish single-handed and spent much time bussing the faithful around in the ‘dreaded minibus’.

When Sarah and her mother attended Adrian’s funeral in 2012, it was the first time she’d got to enter the Hall through the front door – in her fishing days, she’d only popped in via the kitchen entrance to gut trout.

Sarah’s brother Johnny still fishes at Wytham Mill and she occasionally joins him to sit and put the world to rights. He still values the lessons he learned from an old-fashioned country sportsman.

Sarah studied mathematics at the University of Dundee, taught in Scotland for a year then returned briefly to live with her parents at South Ormsby while teaching at Boston Grammar School. While teaching in Boston, Sarah ran the RAF section of the CCF and Adrian very kindly allowed her cadets to conduct exercises on estate land and sleep over in the old school house. The boys had a lot of fun courtesy of the Squire.

Sarah later joined the RAF as an engineer and enjoyed a long career with a dozen postings in the UK and further afield. When she retired, she returned to Lincolnshire and now lives in Alford.

 

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