Yesterday we decided to take a drive down to Dorchester and visit Thomas Hardy’s cottage at Higher Bockhampton.
I really don’t know why anyone goes on the roads in England at this time of year, but we fetched up at the new visitor centre and car park. This is a great improvement since my last visit nearly ten years ago. We found a really close parking space and went to the visitor centre for a coffee.
You can now make the fifteen minute walk to the cottage by way of a walk through the woods which is delightful and brings you down to an excellent first view of the cottage
complete, at the moment, with charming historical scaffolding.
Set amongst some typically English cottage gardens and with woods and heathland behind (the inspiration for Egdon Heath?) it is much larger than it first appears. Built from cob and thatch it is where Hardy was born and lived until he left home to get married at the age of thirty four. Both Under the Greenwood Tree and Far From the Madding Crowd were written here.
Internally the cottage has been very well preserved. You are struck by the low ceilings and doors of the small rooms but everything is very cosy. Mrs Sixwheeler declared that she could happily live there. Many Hardy related artefacts are on display, here are his violins
and in one bedroom we came across his cat happily snoozing on the bed,
along with a pretty chair and his potty.
In another room someone has laid out his clothes for the day on the bed.
After a good look round we left as it was getting quite crowded and walked back down the lane to the car and headed off into the country to find a pub for lunch.
A very nice day out.