Hardy's Wessex

The landscapes that inspired a writer 

Major exhibition across four museums

28 May – 30 Oct 2022

Please note – Exhibition now closed

The largest collection of Thomas Hardy objects ever displayed at one time

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story is retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

  • Four exhibitions, each exploring a different Hardy theme
  • A treasure trove of objects that give personal insights into Thomas Hardy’s life
  • Many of the objects have never been on public display before
  • Each exhibition has a star object on loan from a national collection 

We are hugely grateful to Battens Solicitors for sponsoring this exhibition. Battens has a 300-year old history in the south west – it’s Yeovil office was open in the days when Thomas Hardy was finding his inspiration in the Wessex landscapes.

Find out how Hardy tackled class snobbery and animal cruelty.
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Experience the romance and excitement of the coastline that so inspired Hardy.
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Discover Hardy's thinking about women's rights and religion.
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See how Wiltshire's ancient burial mounds and beliefs seeped into Hardy’s writing
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Our star loans were made possible by support from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund

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There’s also a species called a sawshark, but that’s, well, a shark!

What the heck is a lek?

Males great bustards perform spectacular courtship displays, gathering at a ‘lek’ or small display ground to try to impress the females.

Road Runner!

The great bustard has a dignified slow walk but tends to run when disturbed, rather than fly.

Belly Buster!

The hen-bird on display at The Salisbury Museum was one of the last great bustards to be eaten in the town!

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