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Fred J. Hando

Let us consider what attracts us to a book and makes us want to purchase and read it. Well for me, and I suspect most people, it is a combination of (in no particular order):-

  • Cover illustrations 
  • Internal illustrations 
  • Title
  • Subject matter

Being a Monmouthshire boy born and bred - I wonder what they call a native of Monmouthshire? However, I digress - anything with “Monmouthshire” in the title gets my interest. Secondly, being a country bumpkin (sorry I can't stand cities, and just about cope with towns), the dust cover illustration has to be a scene from the countryside. For illustrations I like accuracy with simplicity, and it must be something I would say “I could not have done that” which does not take much as Art is not my strong point!

That just leaves subject matter; this is a bit more tricky, but when I go for a walk and see a ruined building or a strange terrace in the landscape, I think 'what caused that?' or 'what did that use to look like?' So anything which can help with these little puzzles goes down a treat.

By now you must be wondering why this article is entitled Fred J. Hando. Well, he is an author of books which meet my criteria. You can see for yourself the dust covers of his books and his wonderful pen and ink drawings of many of Monmouthshire villages, houses and country views scattered throughout this article. So I thought I would do a bit of research and write about this local author whose illustrations I have admired for years. Unfortunately my research did not reveal anything but the briefest of details - but that could just be my research technique!

Fred J. Hando was born in Maindee, Newport, South Wales on 23rd March 1888 and trained at Borough Road College, London, before returning to Newport as a teacher. In the First World War he served as a gunnery officer in the Royal Engineers. His interest in local history was given impetus when he was asked to provide sketches to illustrate Sir Joseph Bradney's multi-volume History of Monmouthshire. His first newspaper articles about Monmouthshire were published in the South Wales Argus in 1922. He went on to contribute over 800 articles with the main series of 795 articles entitled "Monmouthshire Sketchbook" being published between 1953 & 1970. Hando was also organist and choirmaster at Summerhill Baptist Church for many years. In 1953 he was awarded the MBE for services to education and to Monmouthshire, having spent many years as headmaster at Hatherleigh Road school in Newport. Hando died whilst still contributing regular articles on 17th February 1970.


  • Rambles in Gwent (1924)

  • The Pleasant Land of Gwent (1944) (including limited Deluxe Edition of 220 copies, signed by the author)

  • Journeys in Gwent (1951)

  • Pictorial Guide to the Wye Valley and the Royal Forest of Dean (1952)

  • Monmouthshire Sketch Book (1954)

  • Out and About in Monmouthshire (1958)

  • Monmouth Town (1964)

  • Here and There in Monmouthshire (1964)

Collections of Hando's articles, edited by Chris Barber:

  • Hando's Gwent (1987)

  • Hando's Gwent Volume 2 (1989)


Contributed by Adam

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