Seaby and the New Forest

Allen Seaby has strong associations with the New Forest.

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Seaby camping with his son Wilfred and wife Ada. LMGLM:2015.60.2

Its landscape and wildlife was the inspiration for many drawings, paintings and prints, all observed first-hand while on camping holidays in the area. The Seaby family (Allen, his wife Ada, daughter Mildred and sons Philip, Herbert and Wilfred) began camping in homemade tents at Decoy Pond Farm near Beaulieu Road Station.  

The first expedition was made in 1918 but heavy rain forced the Seabys to retreat to a boarding house in Lymington. Happily, future trips were more successful and Wilfred recalled that “in the lovely summer of 1919 father was able to cycle round and sketch ponies and scenery for his first pony story Skewbald: The New Forest Pony”.

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Sketch entitled ‘Afternoon Reading’, made by Allen Seaby during a family camping trip to Decoy Pond Farm near Beaulieu in 1920. LMGLM:2019.48.6

In 1928 Seaby bought a piece of land with a well and a pond near the edge of the Forest at Wootton. There he built a wooden hut with a separate earth closet toilet. There were two rooms, one a bedroom the other used for everything else. Later a verandah was added and another hut was built with room for two camp beds. Some of the family slept in the huts, others in tents.

There was no electricity at the hut so lighting was provided by candles and Tilley lamps; primus stoves were used for cooking. The family would walk up to Broadley Farm to collect milk. Supplies came from the local store and post office or from New Milton.

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Allen Seaby with his friend Charles Guttridge beside the hut at Wootton Roughs. LMGLM:2015.60.4

From Wootton the family set out on foot or bicycle to explore the Forest, Wilfred recalling that “many are the walks we have taken together on the commons, along the streams and through the enclosures, father often stopping to draw groups of ponies or a particular feature of the forest itself”.

The gallery below gives more information about Allen Seaby’s time in the New Forest and examples of the work he created there. Click on the images to view them at a larger scale.

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