Learning at Hardy's Cottage: Key Stage 5 Walks and Workshops

A school group on a walk in Thorncombe Woods

To immerse students in the world of Thomas Hardy, his literature and nineteenth-century social history, we offer a selection of hands-on workshops and walks. These are allied to particular texts but are also the perfect literary enrichment activities or to provide context for Victorian literature.

Key Stage 5: Walks and Workshops

Venue: Thorncombe Woods and Hardy's Cottage

Tess of the D'Urbervilles walk

Using the sylvan canvas of Thorncombe Woods, this walk leads students through the landscapes which Tess travels through, widening the discussion to gender representations in landscape and the way that change of landscape reflects change in plot. Perfect introduction to the site after a long coach journey, leading the group from Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre to Hardy's Cottage (approx. 45 mins).

Curriculum/Novel: English Literature (spec. AQA English Literature A 'Love through the Ages'; AQA English Literature B 'Literary Genres: Aspects of Tragedy'; OCR English Literature 'Women in Literaure')/Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Poetry walk

Through poetry and prose, this walk helps to show the Wessex landscape through Hardy's eyes. Incorporating extracts of his writing, it explores the natural landscape and the nineteenth-century ways of life that were associated with it, as well as the wealth of flora and fauna found in Thorncombe Woods today (approx. 60 mins).

Butter-churning workshop

Get productive in this hands-on session, where the group are invited to churn cream into butter. As the cream thickens, the group is asked to consider the linking concepts from this practical task to its wider nineteenth-century social context: Who would have made butter? How was labour gendered? Where was it made and for whom? How do tasks like this change our perception of time and distance? Based around Tess of the D'Urbervilles (approx. 30-45 mins).

Curriculum/Novel: English Literature (spec. AQA English Literature A 'Love through the Ages'; AQA English Literature B 'Literary Genres: Aspects of Tragedy'; OCR English Literature 'Women in Literaure'); History (spec. OCR History A 'The Condition of England')/Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

'Fact into Fiction' workshop

Where does true inspiration and creativity reside? Can fact be stranger than fiction? Hardy was a writer obsessed with basing his plots in fact, and researched local news stories extensively to compile his 'Book of Facts' for literary inspiration. Students are invited to journey through this creative process, with our team, from newpaper to novel (approx. 40 mins).

Curriculum/Novel: English Language; English Literature; History (spec. OCR History A 'The Condition of England')/Mayor of Casterbridge

'Costumes in the Landscape' workshop

Get inside the skin (or clothing) of some of Hardy's most charismatic characters, from Far From the Madding Crowd. This workshop will explore the importance of clothing as a social marker in nineteenth-century, rural England, through primary sources and hands-on handling sessions. In particular, the group will look at how Hardy uses clothing to show character developemtn through the novel's progression.

Curriculum/Novel: English Literature; History (spec. OCR History A 'The Condition of England')/Far From the Madding Crowd

How to book

Booking forms (with prices) can be downloaded here . All groups must book in advance. For more information and to make a booking, please contact Harriet Still by email.