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Thomas Hardy's Cottage - Higher Bockhampton, Nr Dorchester DT2 8QJ
Here is a selection of high quality photographs of Hardy's Cottage.
Built around 1800 this small cob and thatch built cottage, at the end of Cherry Lane (built by his grandfather also Thomas Hardy), his grandfather was a known smuggler of brandy and the peep-hole in the porch was supposedly for watching for excise men.) has been given weather protection by brick facing or rendered cement and has been little altered externally. It was already by this time called 'Hardy's Cottage'. Its character is of crossbeams and latticed windows. It is where the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was born, in the upstairs middle bedroom, to Thomas and Jemima (Hand) Hardy on the 2nd June 1840 there first child of four. The family can trace its heredity back to the Norman time to le Hardi (this theme Hardy later used with Tess's father John Durbeyfield and the D'Urbervilles). Thomas Hardy senior was a local builder and stone mason, he would pay his employees through the barred window that opens on to Egdon Heath, which Hardy wrote of in 'The Return of the Native'. The cottage stands at the top of the hill off Cuckoo Lane in Higher Bockhampton. The house did not always look as it does today for over years there were a number of renovations that enlarged it. The original entry was where the second window from the left is now. From this west-facing window, the upstairs room on the right was Hardy's office and on a clear winter day when trees are bare, the monument to Admiral Thomas Masterman Hardy (of Trafalgar fame) is visible on Blackdown Hill, ten miles to the southwest. The monument was a landmark to young Thomas and the Admiral, who probably was a distant relative, appears in The Trumpet-Major and Hardy's long, epic poem The Dynasts. The house consists of 7 rooms and Thomas remained here for 34 years of his life. The northern section of the house was probably built for to house his grandmother Mary Head Hardy and the two houses could have been knocked into one after her death in 1857.
From his father young Thomas Hardy gained an appreciation of music, and from his mother an appetite for learning and the delights of the countryside about his rural home. Hardy was frail as a child, and did not start at the village school (Julia Martin's) until he was eight years old. One year later he transferred to a new school in the county town of Dorchester. From here the young Thomas would walk to school in Dorchester everyday, some six miles away. He continued to live there whilst a pupil in the office of John Hicks, the Dorchester architect. When he was 22 years old Hardy left Dorset to try his luck in London for the architect Arthur Blomfield. Thomas returned some five years later to practice locally. His writing was done in the little room upstairs at the window seat looking west towards Black Down. His two early published novels 'Under The Greenwood Tree' (in which Hardy's cottage is the original for the tranters cottage) and "Far From The Madding Crowd" both were written from here. He finally left living here at the age of 34 when he married his first wife Emma Lavinia Gifford leaving the cottage for Yarmouth. His marriage to Emma was troubled and a time of great unhappiness for Hardy but it inspired some of his most moving poems. Just as Hardy would remember it the old-fashioned garden is crowded with lavender, lupins, lilies, marigolds and other traditional cottage garden plants. The garden has nearly two acres of land part of which is and orchard.
Thomas Hardy remained loyal to this cottage all of his life and would visit it weekly on foot or by bicycle after he moved to Max Gate in 1885. He would always on his birthday take a walk in the woods behind the cottage. Hardy continued to pay the rent on the property up until 1913 even after his mother had died in 1904.
The property has now
been owned by the National
Trust since 1948 when it was given to the National Trust in accordance
with the will of Miss K Hardy. A small collection of items connected with
Hardy, including letters and memorials of his literary career, were given
to the Trust in 1965. . Opening
Times 2004: 1 Apr1 Nov 115 Mo Th Fr Sa Su (or dusk if earlier).
The cottage is a small 10 mins walk through the woods from the car park. Photography
is not permited within the cottage. Admission: £3.00. No reduction for
children or parties. School parties and coaches by arrangement only. There
are no WC facilties at the cottage but there is an excellent Cafe/Restaurant
at the car park.
Domicilium by Thomas Hardy
It faces west, and round the back and sides
High beeches, bending, hang a veil of boughs,
And sweep against the roof, Wild honeysucks
Climb on the walls, and seem to sprout a wish
(If we may fancy wish of trees and plants)
To overtop the apple-trees hard by.
Red roses, lilacs, varigated box
Are there in plenty, and such hardy flowers
As flourish best untrained. Adjoining these
Are herbs and esculents; and farther still
A field; then cottages with trees, and last
The distant hills and sky.
Behind, the scene is wilder. Heath and furze
Are everything that seems to grow and thrive
Upon the uneven ground. A stunted thorn
Stands here and there, indeed, and from a pit
An oak uprises, springing from a seed
Dropped by some bird a hundred years ago....
In days bygone -
Long gone - my father's mother, who is now
Blest with the blest, would take me out to walk.
At such a time I once inquired of her
How looked the spot when first she settled here.
The answer I remember. 'Fifty years
Have passed since then, my child, and change has marked
The face of all things. Yonder garden-plots
And orchards were uncultivated slopes
O'ergrown with bramble bushes, furze and thorn:
That road a narrow path shut in by ferns,
Which, almost trees, obscured the passer-by.
Our house stood quite alone, and those tall firs
And beeches were not planted. Snakes and efts
Swarmed in the summer days, and nightly bats
Would fly about our bedrooms. Heathcroppers
Lived on the hills, and were our only friends;
So wild it was when first we settled here.'
Thomas Hardy 1860