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Atmospheric Victorian home designed by Thomas Hardy
Max Gate, an austere but sophisticated town house a short walk from the town centre of Dorchester, was the home of Dorset's most famous author and poet Thomas Hardy. Hardy, who designed the house in 1885, wanted to show that he was part of the wealthy middle classes of the area, to reflect his position as a successful writer, and to enable him to enter polite society. The house was named after a nearby tollgate keeper called Mack.
Unfortunately, many of Hardy's possessions were dispersed before we acquired the house, but you can still see the spaces he created and the rooms he shaped in order to write and live in. He wrote some of his most famous novels here, including Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, as well as much of his poetry.
You will find the garden much as it was originally planned, with high walls and large trees encircling the property to preserve Hardy's privacy. The sundial, designed by Hardy, was erected in his memory.
- The pet cemetery where Hardy's dog Wessex is buried
- Write your own poem at the desk in Hardy's study
- Admire the architecture of the house Hardy designed
- Help yourself to tea and cake in the old kitchen
- Explore the newly restored kitchen garden
- Take home a souvenir from our small shop
- Come along to an event to really see the place brought to life
Throughout the year, regular events and activities bring to life both Max Gate, where Hardy lived, and Hardy's Cottage. These include poetry, music and theatre in the garden, story-telling in the parlour and popular seasonal celebrations. See the events page for details of upcoming events at both places.
Follow Hardy’s story from his place of birth in Higher Bockhampton to his home at Max Gate, then on to his 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.