The Sumner family at Hatchlands Park
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William Brightwell Sumner purchased Hatchlands Park from Fanny Boscawen in 1770. His family continued to live at Hatchlands for four generations but we know comparatively little about their life here.
A new start
William had spent 23 years in India having made his fortune with the East India Company. He returned to England after falling out with Robert Clive, the famous Clive of India. He later became Sheriff of Surrey.
George Holme Sumner
George was born in Calcutta in 1760 and took the name ‘Holme’ having inherited Holme Hall in Cornwall from his uncle. George took over Hatchlands Park after his father’s death in 1796. Unlike William, who made few changes to Hatchlands, George made changes that you can still see today.
A time for change
George commissioned Joseph Bonomi to draw plans to extend and improve the house and then employed the famous landscape designer Humphry Repton to draw up a scheme to improve the grounds.
Bonomi carried out alterations to the south and west fronts of the house. His proposal for a new entrance on the west front was carried out in 1797. His other work included alterations to the Garden Hall and Staircase Hall.
Repton’s improvements to the garden and park were more extensive and he made these recommendations in one of his celebrated red books. He suggested more formal lawns, gravel walks and screening of the nearby road.
A downturn in fortunes
Arthur Holme Sumner was the last Sumner to own Hatchlands. As surviving information on the Sumner family is scarce, it is not clear how Arthur made his living. We do know that, because of mounting debts, the family decided that they could no longer afford to live at their elegant but expensive home. They spent the next five years moving from one house to another trying to live on the rental that Hatchlands provided, eventually selling the property to Stuart Rendel in 1888.