A Guide to the New Forest by Heywood Sumner

A review by Peter Roberts

A Guide to the New Forest was published in 1923 by Charles Brown and son of Ringwood. The guide, although produced more than 90 years ago, is in many ways the best guide to the woods of the New Forest.  Sumner shows their character by loving description as well as his very attractive drawings and map.  Two editions appeared; without advertisements for 2s 6d (12½p) and with for 1s 6d (7½p)

Sumner, in his preface, said:

This little guide-book is planned for the wayfarer – to suit his pocket both in size and cost.  It is written by one who has known and loved the Forest for forty years.  It claims to be a handy companion, giving a brief account of the District, past and present, of its topography, history, traditions and scenery; and it aims at supplying a useful introduction to the subject, reminiscent of the past, and of the varied beauty that pervades this wild expanse of wood and heathland….

It is difficult to add to that.  He deliberately ignored the church architecture as being described elsewhere but included such delightful descriptions of the real Forest that the book was reprinted not only in his lifetime but also fifty years later.  Following the descriptions of the Forest area by area he included chapters on ‘Natural Landmarks’, ‘Forest Terms’ and ‘Forest Notes’.  This allowed his readers, then and now, the opportunity to become familiar with Forest terms such as Agister, Assart, Vert, Estover and Turbary.  He listed the rights of common and of fuel and even gave brief notes on population in the villages as well as rainfall figures.  Lymington had an average of 33 inches for the years 1910-1919 as against nearly 36 inches at Cuckoo Hill where he lived at Gorley and 39 inches at Lyndhurst.

In the areas he works through the place names alphabetically making this a most useful reference book as well as a pleasure to read.  Under ‘Picked Post’ he states ‘This place is now usually spelt “Picket,” but “picked” was the spelling in the Ordnance Map of 1817, and in all maps previous to that date…Picked is a Wessex word in present use, meaning pointed…. The name probably referred to the pointed angle of the roads that join here.’

A new website for Milford

Congratulations to Milford-On-Sea Historical Records Society on the launch of their new website:  www.milfordhistory.org.

Explore their history pages, read about Milford down the ages; from houses to jobs, from education to religion, from families to personalities. Search their archives for records from the past and find house deeds, wills, old maps and even ration books. Look through this window on to the past. You can also find information on their meeting, events and publications.

MOSHRS were supported by Heritage Lottery funding to digitise their archive and build this wonderful new site, so once again thanks to all of you who buy lottery tickets and congratulations MOSHRS. Great work!

Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library

The Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library houses one of the most comprehensive collections of books, maps, reports and ephemera on the New Forest available to the public in a single location. The Library is stewarded by a team of volunteers.

The Library is open to the public at the following times:
Wednesdays 10.00am – 4.00pm and Fridays 10.00am – 12.30pm and outside of these times by appointment with seven days’ notice.

Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library Open Day Saturday 11 November 2017

The New Forest’s past can be discovered at the Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library’s Open Day on Saturday 11 November. Situated on the first floor of the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst, the facility was opened in 2004 following the building’s renovation funded by the Heritage Lottery and the Christopher Tower Foundation.


Christopher Tower, who was educated at Eton Christ Church, Oxford, was the author of nine poetry books and travelled extensively in the Middle East. He spent his later years in Athens and the New Forest.


The Library contains one of the largest collections of books, maps, photographs, reports and ephemera on the Forest, available to the public in a single location. It is also home of the Ecademy Project, one half of the team behind New Forest Knowledge.


As it is Armistice Day, the recently acquired Simmons collection of WW1 photographs, medals and ephemera relating to East Boldre airbase will be on display along with other sources on the subject. The WW1 aerodrome at East Boldre first started in May 1910 as the New Forest Flying School, the second flying school in the UK. The site then became a RFC and then an RAF base during WWI.


Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help with enquiries in the Library between 10am and 3pm when members of the public are invited to drop in. There is no need to book.


“We have held several successful library open days in the past year and plan to make these a regular occurrence” said Centre Manager, Hilary Marshall. “I hope our visitors will take advantage of this opportunity to explore this wonderful historical resource.”

Commoning Conference 29 Oct 2018

New Forest Knowledge Conference 2018

The Role of Commoning in the Maintenance of Landscape and Ecology: A New Forest, National and Global Perspective.


Date: Monday 29th October 2018, 9:30am-5pm.

Venue: Lyndhurst Community Centre, Lyndhurst  SO43 7NY

Price: £15


Commoning is recognised as important in the survival of the New Forest: a prized reserve for endangered species and a beautiful landscape enjoyed for recreation.

The New Forest commoning system has been described as unique in North Western Europe, characterised by the exercise of common rights by 700 commoners.

This conference will consider the use and significance of common pool resources from a historical, local, national and international perspective. Speakers include researchers from HIWWT, Foundation for Common Land, University of Southampton and Community Research Institute.

Conference programme 2018

Click here to purchase tickets

Organisers reserve the right to make changes to the programme.

Comyn’s New Forest: 1817 Directory of life in the parishes of Boldre & Brockenhurst, edited by Jude James

A review by Peter Roberts

Comyn’s New Forest, edited by Jude James, provides a window into the early 19th century world around Boldre and Brockenhurst.  It shows and maps every household in the two parishes (which included East Boldre and Sway) more than a generation earlier than any county directory and a quarter of a century before the first census information.  It was written by Henry Comyn for his successor in the parishes, the Rev Charles Shrubb. The details that Comyn provide have been enhanced by a great deal of research from the editor to make this book an extraordinarily useful resource not only for family historians but for all with an interest in life in the New Forest.

Extensive indexes have added to the accessibility of the material and together with the numerous illustrations provide a most interesting introduction to life in the area before the reign of Queen Victoria.

Conference 2017: History & Archaeology

The New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 will celebrate the archaeological and historical research being carried out in and around the New Forest. It will provide an opportunity to find out who is doing what, share the results of recent work, discuss new techniques and approaches and find out how you might get involved in the future.

The conference will run over two days from Friday 27 October through to Saturday 28 October 2017 at the Lyndhurst Community Centre.

The full confirmed programme is below and you can find all the abstracts linked below or by selecting Conference under the subjects theme.

As well as presented papers there will be poster displays from local community groups and students, and various display stands. We will aim to ensure there is enough time for you to enjoy these and also to chat with other individuals and representatives from local community groups and organisations.

Day tickets cost £20, but we hope you will be able to join us for both days.
To encourage this we have set the two day ticket at £30.
Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Book your ticket


Day 1: Friday 27th October



Day 2: Saturday 28th October



Eling School, 1920s?

Eling School - copyright New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust

At the Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library, we have been lucky enough to receive a loan of photographs for digitisation. ‘A family history in pictures’ includes a school photograph which is believed to be Eling School. Arthur Purkess has been identified on the back row, eighth from the left. The photograph is likely to date from the 1920s. Can you confirm that this is Eling School? Can you help us to identify anyone else in the picture?


Exhibition – Maps: The New Forest Unfolded

New Forest Gallery Exhibition

21 Jan – 15 Apr, open daily


Discover the biography of the New Forest and its people through maps chosen from the Christopher Tower Reference Library.

These maps of large and small scale, illuminate not only the landscape but the individuals and institutions that shaped the Forest as it is today.


New Forest Centre         

Lyndhurst SO43 7NY


023 8028 3444


Image: Section from Hampshire Sheet LXXXI.I at a scale of 1:2500 from the parish book: ‘Ordnance Plan of the Parish of Beaulieu. Liberty of Beaulieu. In the County of Hants. Surveyed by Captn Sanford R.E. Zincographed under the direction of Captn. Parsons R.E.F.R.A.S. At the Ordnance Survey Office Southampton. Published by Colonel Sir Henry James R.E. F.R.S. & c. Superintendent October 1868.

Herbert Druitt (1876 -1943) Letter

The New Forest Heritage Centre has recently received a relatively ordinary copy of Wise’s New Forest; however inside the front cover is a historical gem. Attached to the front page is a letter to:

Mr and Mrs Parkinson on their leaving The Priory Christchurch for The Rings, Beaulieu. With all good wishes for life in the New Forest. Christchurch,  H.D. Druitt. Saturday 3 Nov. 1934. But alas! For good intentions, I did not send the book Wise’s N.F. till Wednesday 21 August 1935! HD.

The book has been catalogued as part of the Christopher Tower Library’s Special Collection and the record can be viewed here.

‘By the time of his death, Herbert Druitt had amassed one of the biggest private collections in the south of England. He gathered together flint implements, pottery, fossils, shells, coins, birds’ eggs, prints, watercolours, books, pamphlets and many other objects of local and historical interest and this material eventually formed the basis of The Red House Museum in Christchurch, which opened its doors to the public in 1951.’

Want to find out more about Herbert Druitt, the collector? Read the full article from our colleagues at Hampshire Cultural Trust.