The author and poet Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in a thatched cottage, which was built by his great-grandfather. The cottage sits next to Thorncombe Woods in Dorset, at the edge of which is the pay and display car park and the Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Cenrtre. From the car park, there are two walking routes to the cottage itself – either via the bridle path or through the woods, The latter path is quite steep and uneven with tree roots.
Once you arrive at the cottage it does indeed seem “Far from the Madding Crowd” – perfectly peaceful. The traditional garden not only has roses but also herbs and fruit trees; just as it would have been to alllow for sustainable living in Hardy’s day. At the rose covered front door we were greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic National Trust volunteer. She proceeded to tell us the story of Thomas Hardy’s early life. We were able to explore the tiny rooms where the family lived – the kitchen, the parlour, the office and the bedrooms. As you would expect the stairs are quite step and narrow.
We thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story of his family life and how the surroundings influenced Hardy’s writings. His words describe the scene so perfectly”
“Red roses, lilacs, variegated 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”
(Thomas Hardy 1840-1928