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Heywood Sumner: the artist

Heywood Sumner: the artist

George Heywood Maunoir Sumner (1853 – 1940), known as Heywood Sumner, was a renowned painter, illustrator and craftsman and an important figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.

After bringing his family to Cuckoo Hill, near South Gorley, he spent the rest of his life researching and recording the archaeology, geology and folklore of the New Forest.

He illustrated an edition of J.R.Wise’s The New Forest and also designed stained glass windows for churches. He published and hand-drew each page of his own collection of 11 Hampshire folk songs, The Besom Maker and Other Country Folk Songs.

One of his last commercial works was a tapestry inspired by the New Forest called The Chace, woven by William Morris and Company and later acquired by the Hampshire Museums Service.

Heywood Sumner designed and built his ideal family house at Cuckoo Hill and lived there from 1904. Six years later he published The Book of Gorley, a journal of his new rural way of life. The book included anecdotes and illustrations of local characters and the history of the New Forest and its nearby commons. His Guide to the New Forest, published in 1923, is considered to be one of the best guides written about the woods of the New Forest.

A keen archaeologist, the results of his fieldwork were published in two companion volumes: The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase and The Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest.

Heywood Sumner enjoyed 36 years at his beloved Cuckoo Hill. He died there in 1940 at the age of 87. The house still exists and is now a care home.

The Book of Gorley was republished in 1987 as Cuckoo Hill: The Book of Gorley. Illustrated throughout with his distinctive line drawings, maps and watercolour paintings, it is a very popular book.

National Park Archaeologist


'The New Forest was established as a royal hunting forest in 1079 and has a rich and fascinating history.'

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