Sunday, November 21, 2010

Heywood Sumner

Heywood Sumner is a little known artist, illustrator and naturalist working around the beginning of the 20th century, (dates 1853 -1940) he dismissed the pre-raphaelite style and followed in the footsteps of the Arts and Crafts movement. I came across him years ago when I ordered his book from the library which was called Cuckoo Hill or Gornley. It was a handwritten book, illustrated with pictures of the area around his house of his beloved New Forest. The first thing that strikes you about his trees is that they are unusual, a lot of pine, maybe scotch pine, beech, etc. This is because the New Forest occupies a type of sandy heathland, the trees are in his watercolours, the soft greeness everywhere, gentle hummocks; he doesn't paint in a classical style, and his figures and horses can be terrible but there is a warmth and love for the natural world.

He also illustrated Cranbourne Chase, so that there are archaeological drawings as well, mostly black and white in true Arts and Craft style. He even managed to paint barrows, which I consider a great achievement because they often look slightly peculiar.

He built, or had built his house at Gornley, and it is still there today being used as a care home, medium sized and unpretentious, I suspect that his great love for its surroundings would have made for a pleasant life, being able to wander and sketch at will.


  1. I have this book and must blow the dust off and re-acquaint myself with it. I know the Badbury Rings road well, and used to live at Coombe Bissett and work in Salisbury, and also lived near Wimborne, so know the whole area pretty well. The stretch he has painted with the tumuli looks remarkably like the haunted stretch . . . Do you know the tale?

  2. Lucky you BB, though there are some on Amazon at the moment. No I don't know the tale of the haunted stretch - please tell. Not sure why I like his paintings but I think its because of their calm and simplicity.

  3. I was very interested in your post as I live not far from North and South Gorley, where HS lived and worked for many years. It is a beautiful area of the New Forest and an area where I have walked and ridden in years gone by.

    I recently saw one of his large embroidered pictures, of a New Forest landscape, in a museum exhibition in Lymington. It was an amazing piece of work.

  4. Hi DW,

    Just been to look at your website and all those gorgeous trees and ponies. Its weird how a certain book comes to mind years down the line. HS's book was a library one, but I took copies of the paintings,
    I found one of his tapestries on line, a hunting one with Pan peeking out of a bushes think it was made at the William Morris studios...