Not only does the quaint thatched cottage in which Hardy was born still stand, but it’s one of the most popular family attractions in Dorchester. Hardy’s Cottage was built by his great-grandfather in 1800, and little has changed since. Hardy lived in the cottage until he was 22, and returned to it to write after 5 years in London. Visitors can sit in the very spot where Dorset’s most famous writer penned some of his best-loved works, including ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’.
Picture the quintessential English country garden and it’ll probably look just the one that Hardy admired from his bedroom window. There’s also an orchard, and the whole area is full with the sound of birds singing all year round. The property may be beautiful but as you discover more about day to day rural life you’ll start to appreciate that it had its challenges during the 19th century, and the friendly staff are always on hand to answer questions or just enjoy a chat about the author.
Look out for the peep hole in the porch used by Hardy’s grandfather for smuggling escapades, and the small room upstairs in which the author wrote. The cottage is open to visitors between March and October, and is now owned by the National Trust.