Explore Max Gate, room by room

A room by room guide to Max Gate, from the intentionally light and airy hallway to Hardy's wife Emma's retreat in the attic.

A close up of the picture-lined staircase and grandfather clock in the hallway at Max Gate

The Entrance Hall

Hardy gave much thought to light when designing and adapting his house. In the Entrance Hall internal windows above the main staircase cleverly ‘borrow’ light, illuminating a space that would otherwise have been far less inviting.

The dining room at Max Gate with the table in the foreground

The Dining Room

This room saw some highly influential people sit down to dinner. Among the many distinguished visitors who dined at Max Gate were Edward, Prince of Wales, the poet W.B. Yeats, Rudyard Kipling, James Barrie (author of Peter Pan), and writer and aristocrat Lady Cynthia Asquith.

The drawing room at Max Gate

The Drawing Room

This room was also known as the Music Room. Music had been a key feature of Hardy's childhood and here he played the violin while Emma accompanied him on the piano. Visitors, friends and family were frequently entertained in this room. Also in the later years, when some of Hardy’s novels were adapted for the theatre, this is where the Hardy Players would plan their productions and rehearse. Feel free to play the piano in this room - it’s from the same period as when Hardy lived here.

The writing desk in front of the window in the third study

Hardy's Third Study

Thomas’s fame and fortune continued to grow and following the success of Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, he could afford to expand Max Gate. In 1894-95 a new, larger kitchen and scullery were built, with Hardy’s third study above, and two attic rooms for Emma’s use. In this study Hardy wrote most of his poetry.

Emma's boudoir with wooden floors, a small fireplace and sloping roof

Emma's Boudoir and Bedroom

When the 1894-5 alterations to the house were being planned, Emma asked Thomas to create her a space in which she could write, paint, read and sew in peace. The result was these attic rooms, which she described as her ‘sweet refuge and solace’. Emma started to use the rooms as a daytime retreat, but by 1899 she decided to move her bedroom up there.