No visit to Dorset would be complete without a bit of Thomas Hardy, and we took the opportunity whilst we were there to visit the cottage where he was born and started his writing. It’s set in the beautiful Dorset country side hidden by woodland. A pleasant walk through a copse of shady trees and suddenly it is there before you in all its typically English, chocolate box glory. I can only imagine the thrill our American cousins must get when they see it for the first time.
From the outside it looks like a large comfortable abode. The reality is small dark rooms, little windows, no heating other than a large open fires downstairs and chilly flagstone floors
This is a reproduction of the desk where Hardy wrote. From here he wrote several of his early short stories, poetry and novels including ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Far from the Maddening Crowd’. I can imagine he would have been inspired by the garden if it was anything like as beautiful as it is now but I can also imagine how freezing it must have been in winter. I have this image of him wrapped up in mittens and a muffler, (didn’t everyone wear a muffler in those days?) scratching away with his ink in the bitter cold.
Perhaps shamefully I have only read ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ and that was some years ago. Hardy is having bit of a moment right now with the recent film of ‘Far From The Maddening Crowd’ and at the time we visited there were lots of references to the recent film.
The gardens of the cottage are fabulous, an abundance of cottagey garden flowers, delicious smelling roses and a large vegetable plot, and potting sheds. Only a cow or chicken or two is needed to complete this idyll of self-sufficiency.
The cottage is currently being propped up, and repaired hence the scaffold. It has been beautifully preserved by the National Trust and is a lovely place to while away a couple of hours or seek literary inspiration in a typically English rural setting.
If you are in this part of the country its a lovely place to visit. Being owned by the National Trust there’s a great cafe where I can personally recommend the crab sandwiches. And should you feel the need to increase your Thomas Hardy reading repertoire, of course there is a gift shop selling the full range of Hardy Novels.