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Celebrating Hampshire's Historians

Sumner, George Heywood Maunoir

1853 - 21 December 1940

Heywood Sumner was born at Old Alresford where his father was Rector. He came from a prominent ecclesiastical family.  A great uncle was Archbishop of Canterbury, his grandfather Bishop of Winchester and his father became Bishop of Guildford. His mother, Mary Heywood, became famous as the founder of the Mothers’ Union.

Sumner was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he read law, although he never went into practice. Instead, he pursued his interests in drawing and design and became a disciple of William Morris and a follower of the Arts and Crafts movement. He developed an artistic style which was both distinctive and fresh and was to characterise all his later published works on the New Forest and surrounding areas.

Illustration by Heywood Sumner from an article in Vol 9 of Proceedings

(An image taken from his article 'A Winter Walk in the New Forest' published in Vol 9 of Proceedings; see the link below in 'Relevant published works'.)

In 1883 he married Agnes Benson and in 1897 they moved to Bournemouth. The visitor’s book kept by the household shows that several archaeologists and historians stayed with the family during this period and his serious interest in the subject dates from this period.  In 1903 he moved to a new house, built to his own design, Cuckoo Hill near Gorley, where he lived for the rest of his life.

In 1910 Sumner’s Book of Gorley was published, exhibiting the style and attention to detail that was to become his trademark in later works about Cranborne Chase and the New Forest. He also began his own series of excavations, investigating sites on Rockbourne Down, at East Grinstead and, most famously, the New Forest Roman pottery kilns. Local history was not neglected and his Local Papers (1931) and Guide to the New Forest (1923 etc) examined various aspects of the subject.

His wife, Agnes, died in 1938, after 56 years of a marriage which produced five children, and Sumner followed two years later, leaving behind a rich legacy for those interested in the Forest and its surrounds.


  • New Forest Newsletter 1978 (Jude James)


Heywood Sumner

Contribution to county’s history

Heywood Sumner’s artistic prowess, distinctive style and attention to detail did much to shine a light on the archaeology and history of the New Forest, Avon Valley and Cranborne Chase.   

Relevant published works

  • Sumner, H (1910) The Book of Gorley, Chiswick Press

  • Sumner, H (1913) The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, Chiswick Press

  • Sumner, H (1914) Excavations on Rockbourne Down, Chiswick Press

  • Sumner, H (1917) Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest, Chiswick Press

  • Sumner, H (1921) A Descriptive Account of the Roman Pottery Sites at Sloden and Blackheath Meadow, Linwood, New Forest

  • Sumner, H (1923) A Guide to the New Forest (Brown, Ringwood)

  • Sumner, H (1924) Excavations at East Grinstead (Chiswick Press)

  • Sumner, H (1925) A Winter Walk in the New Forest Proc Hants Field Club & Archaeol Soc, Vol 9, Part 3, pp. 361-369

  • Sumner, H (1929) J. Norden’s Survey of Medieval Coppices in the New Forest A.D. 1609 Proc Hants Field Club & Archaeol Soc, Vol 10, Part 2, pp. 95-117

  • Sumner, H (1931) Local Papers – Archaeological and Topographical Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire (Chiswick Press).

Critical Comments

Other Comments


Dave Allen, October 2021

Key Words

New Forest, ancient earthworks, Roman pottery, Arts & Crafts, geology, folklore

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