Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre

Just a short walk from Hardy's Cottage, on the edge of Thorncombe Wood Nature Reserve you'll find our new visitor centre. Built in partnership with Dorset County Council, it is gateway for local people and visitors to discover more about the life and works of Thomas Hardy and his connection to the local landscape.

Please check the home page before visiting

This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. Please check our homepage for the most up to date information about visiting.​

With new interpretation displays, learning and community space and a ranger's workshop, the visitor centre invites everyone from the community to experience this area in new and exciting ways. There are opportunities for school groups to take part, heritage enthusiasts to explore more about the Victorian way of life, community groups and volunteers to contribute to the maintenance of the visitor centre, grounds and surrounding land, and avid walkers to look at the landscape with a new perspective.


Opening times

The visitor centre is open daily 10am-4pm with last orders at 3.30pm, except Christmas. Entry is free.

If you'd prefer to visit when it's not too busy and you can be sure of a space in the car park, we suggest you come on a Thursday or Friday which are by far the quietest days. Normal admission charges apply, and as always members are free. (No tickets are available at the cottage itself.)


Facilities at Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre

  • Under the Greenwood Tree Café

  • Shop

  • Toilets (including disabled toilet and nappy change facilities)

  • Hearing loop

  • Accessible building with automatic doors

  • Disabled parking

For further details about these facilities visit the Dorset County Council website.



Follow the visitor centre's Facebook page to keep up-to-date with the latest events, such as walking-stick making demonstrations, workshops on how to create bonnets and buttons of Hardy's era and guided walks around Thorncombe Wood.


Parking at Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre

Cars: there is a small car park beyond the visitor centre, for cars and motorcycles only.
Please park in the marked bays. There is a disabled parking bay available near the centre and by  Hardy’s Cottage (with advance notice). Please be sure to display your Blue Badge.

Coaches: coach parking and drop off are not allowed in the car park. For full details of parking options for coaches please visit the Dorset County Council website.