“The Three Strangers” in Thomas Hardy’s country

Yes, that’s us – me, George and Mummy visiting Dorchester where Thomas Hardy lived most of his life.

After David met us at the train station (with the most appropriate sign), we began our drive through Dorset –IMG_9400And this is what it looked like outsideIMG_9401 We drove up to Mintern Gardens where dogs are allowed in but they were closed at this time of year – Mummy said we’re just checking out these places for when we do come back during warmer climes.IMG_9404 So we took a photo to remind ourselvesIMG_9513And drove on.IMG_9410 Next stop – Cerne Abbas.IMG_9416If you look hard enough, you will see etched on the hillside in the distance is The Cerne Giant.  He looks like he’s holding a big bone but Mummy said its a club. (And she said – not the other one!!!)  He is believed to be over 1500 years old and represents the Roman god, Hercules.  Or they thought he’s a giant caricature of Oliver Cromwell – so he can’t be that old.

We hope this sign does not apply to ALL animals in Dorset!!!
IMG_9423Next stop Thomas Hardy’s cottage.  We had to park the car and then walked along a wet muddy lane IMG_9427Finally at the end of that long walk, we reached Hardy’s CottageIMG_9430Again it wasn’t open but Mummy wanted to see it anyway. This is where he grew up.IMG_9428So we walked around the house to see “more” of it – the back of the house.IMG_9440There was also a monument IMG_9438After we trekked all the way back, we went inside the Information Centre where dogs are welcomed.IMG_9443After Hardy’s Cottage, David suggested we should go to St Michael in StinsfordIMG_9454And walked through the cemetery
IMG_9455When lo and behold there was Thomas Hardy’s tomb!!!IMG_9461Thomas Hardy was buried in two places. His body rests in Westminster Abbey’s Poets Corner while his heart is buried here.
IMG_9450Next to the Hardy tombstones, we noticed there was Cecil Day-Lewis and Jill Day-Lewis tombstones.IMG_9465After that, one more stop – at Max Gate, the house that Hardy designed for himself and lived in.IMG_9469 He was trained as an architectIMG_9468Glad he stuck to writingIMG_9467May’s comment:  I knew there were many places that would not be open at this time of year but while here, we might as well go see them.

Domicilium” is the verse Hardy wrote about the cottage where he grew up … and you can imagine what it looked like during the summer.

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, 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.

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 friends;
So wild it was when first we settled here.’

“The Three Strangers” is also a Thomas Hardy short story from 1883.

Our driver, David has a cockapoo himself, called Folly. We were hoping to meet her but during this time of year, things are a bit hectic as we know. So now we know we can come back to go for walks with Folly.

3 Comments

  1. Jill Keiser

    Thanks Miss Darcy for all the pictures of Thomas Hardy’s cottage, tomb, etc. and the excellent poem about his boyhood home, so picturesque! I forgot to tell you my full name: Jill DORSETT Keiser!

  2. Samantha Smith

    Such a beautiful county. Cerne Abbas is where both Jensen and Enzo were born.

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