This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.
Notice: The Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre will be closed on the morning of Tuesday 10 March for a private event. It will reopen to visitors at approximately 1pm. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Evocative cob and thatch cottage - birthplace of Thomas Hardy
Few authors have such strong associations with the natural and cultural heritage of their local area as Thomas Hardy. This cottage, where Hardy was born in 1840, was built of cob and thatch by his grandfather and has been little altered since the family left.
Despite training as an architect, writing was Hardy's first love, and it was from here that he wrote several of his early short stories, poetry and novels including 'Under the Greenwood Tree' and 'Far from the Madding Crowd'.
The garden reflects most people's idea of a typical cottage garden, with roses around the door, and the sound of birdsong, even in winter. Once inside you will discover that 19th-century rural life, with its open hearths, small windows and stone floors, was not always idyllic.
The cottage sits next to Thorncombe Woods, owned and managed by Dorset County Council. This is an ancient woodland and nature reserve that opens out onto heathland and the beginning of Hardy's Egdon Heath.
Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre is a joint partnership between Dorset County Council and the National Trust. It includes a café, toilet facilities and information about the woods, heathland and cottage.
Current opening times: Monday - Friday 9am-4pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm.
Along with A la Ronde, Coleridge Cottage and Greenway, Hardy’s Cottage and Max Gate will be part of a new 'Writing Places' project in partnership with Literature Works. With events and activities from summer 2015 to autumn 2016, it will explore the links between place and creative inspiration. Look out for more information soon.
How about exploring the landscape which provided inspiration for Hardy's work? Take a walk through the woodland and heathland surrounding the cottage, just as Hardy once did himself. You can download the Walking Through Hardy's Landscape trail leaflet on the link below.
You can also tick off some 50 things activities along the way, including build a den, make a trail with sticks, create some wild art and hunt for bugs. Or download the Hardy's Birthplace Discovery Trail (pdf) for a family adventure in the great outdoors.
Follow Hardy’s story from his place of birth here to his home at Max Gate*, and final resting place at St Michael's Church in Stinsford. Learn more about his life and work at the Dorset County Museum, get your photo taken next to the Hardy memorial, and round off your trip with a tour of Clouds Hill*, home of Lawrence of Arabia, a great friend of Hardy.
*Currently closed for winter, reopening in March 2015.