Thomas Hardy Trail, part 1 – Life & Times

DSC08658

Portrait of Thomas Hardy, born 1840 – died 1928

We’ve come down to Dorset for a few days with my brother Robin – over from Australia, to do the Thomas Hardy Trail. Staying at the wonderfully atmospheric Old Post Office in Lower Bockhampton – which features explicitly in a couple of his poems, is opposite the old primary school which the young Hardy attended – just a short walk from his birthplace, close to Dorchester – Hardy’s Casterbridge and central for most of the important location throughout his life and, consequently, many of the places on which he based his novels and poems. We (well actually Jane and Robin!) have drawn heavily on the many available sources to create the itinerary, but we’ve found The Landscape of Thomas Hardy by Denys Kay-Robinson to be amongst the most useful. The majority of locations we’ve visited are to be found in the delightful county of Dorset but we have wandered more widely around ‘outer Wessex’ in our quest of discovery.
This blog is divided into two parts, the first covers most of the places significant in Hardy’s own life, the second, details the actual locations – about which there is a whole library of material and much debate, believed to have been used by Hardy as the backdrop to his novels and poems.

Lower Bockhampton, location of the Old Post Office

DSC08619

The Old Post Office, Lower Brockhampton

DSC08975

The porch of the old village school where Thomas Hardy was a pupil

DSC08677

The water meads across which TH would have walked on his way to and from school (courtesy of RW)

_DSC0863-Edit

Thomas Hardy’s house in Upper Bockhampton, now in the care of the National Trust

DSC08657

The interior of the cottage, with Jemima his mother’s chair and his father’s violins

DSC08659

At the back of the cottage, Hardy’s Egdon Heath – location for much of the action in Return of the Native

DSC08675

Jemima’s parents cottage in Melbury Osmond

_DSC0772

As a young architect, Hardy travelled to the remote church of St Juliot, Boscastle

DSC08763

Here, at the Rectory (now a B&B), he met Emma and fell in love. He married her more than a decade later

DSC08756

Hardy was responsible for supervising a major restoration of the church

DSC08747 DSC08752

The house in which Hardy lived briefly in Swanage, best observed from Sentry Road

DSC08942 DSC08944

Their first home together was on the banks of the Stour, at Sturminster Newton

DSC08806 DSC08805

The mill on the river which featured in his poetry

DSC08808

Max Gate in Dorchester, designed by TH and built by his father, where he lived for over forty years – first with Emma and later with Florence, his second wife. Now in the care of the National Trust (photo courtesy of RW)

_DSC1115 DSC08899

The Hardy’s reconstructed sitting room – all of the original furniture & fittings having been sold off after his death

DSC08903

Details of Emma’s upstairs accommodation

DSC08912

The contents of Hardy’s study – removed from Max Gate, on his instruction, and relocated to the town museum after his death (photo courtesy of RW)

_DSC0645-Edit

Thomas Hardy’s grave in Stinsford churchyard – his heart is buried here whilst his ashes rest in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey. He lies in the company of both Emma & Florence

DSC08626

Part 2 will feature the settings for most of his major works…

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Travel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s