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Things to do in the house at Max Gate

Three adults and a baby in a red room in the house at Max Gate
Visitors at Max Gate | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Discover the house at Max Gate. Designed by Thomas Hardy himself, it’s where he wrote some of his greatest novels and poetry, and where he lived until his death in 1928.

Hardy's original furniture

The original items of furniture at Max Gate were sold off after Hardy’s death by his second wife, Florence. A small number of original pieces of furniture have made their way back to Max Gate over time.

However, most of what you see today are recreations of how the rooms might have looked, using items of furniture from the period Hardy lived 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.

Large wooden desk with bookshelves and red walls behind it
The dining room at Max Gate | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The Dining Room

The Dining 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

The Drawing Room was also known as the Music Room. Visitors, friends and family were frequently entertained in this room.

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 dining room at Max Gate, with terracotta walls and a large dining table
The dining room at Max Gate | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Hardy's third study

Thomas’ 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 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.

Visitors and a guide in the garden at Max Gate, Dorset

Book your visit

It is recommended you book a ticket in advance. You can do this via our website or by calling 0344 249 1895.

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