Hardy’s Cottage & Max Gate (Dorset)


It was Easter, April 2017.  I was sick with tonsillitis.  But I was not quite on death’s door and we did have a hotel in Dorset booked.  I decided that I could make the journey down from London, provided we scaled down our usual itinerary of three houses/gardens a day to maybe one or two.

Thus, Easter became a quiet affair. I walked slowly and carefully around a number of houses and gardens.  I went to sleep at 9pm each evening.  I took my antibiotics, sipped on milk thistle and kept my throat warm.

I had already planned to visit two houses in which the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy had lived.  The first (above) was built by his grandfather in 1800 and is where he grew up and lived from 1840 until he was 34.

The second house is the one that Hardy – as a trained architect – designed for himself and where he wrote and lived until his death in 1928.

The former house is a chocolate box cottage made of cob and thatch, tucked away down a country lane, a beautiful cottage garden sitting to the front of it.  The latter is an austere Victorian red brick house, with tall gables and a clock tower.

Easter Saturday morning started with Max Gate…


Later in the afternoon, following a trip into Dorchester itself, we drove over to Hardy’s Cottage, where we partook in the Easter Egg Hunt.  It’s the kind of garden where I could imagine sitting on a warm summer’s day, sipping elderflower cordial.

Thomas Hardy's cottage @nationaltrust #dorset

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I haven’t got much to say about either house.  The thatched cottage is very pretty but that’s about it.  The second house is Victorian and falls into the category of authors/artists’ home that I generally think should have been kept as a family home rather than a museum.  I was more interested in the daily routine of Hardy’s gardener, as set out on a blackboard in the kitchen garden to the rear of his house.  I have respect for Bertie Norman Stephens, who must have had good strength of character.

Duties of the gardener @nationaltrust Max Gate

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When visited: April 2017




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