Hardy's Wessex

at other

local venues

28 May – 30 October 2022

Delve further into Thomas Hardy's story at these participating museums and visitor centres across Dorset and Wiltshire.

Bridport Museum

Bridport features as Port Bredy in Thomas Hardy’s short story, Fellow-Townsmen, and in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The museum’s photographic archive gives an insight into Bridport as Hardy might have known it.

Open Monday to Friday 10am–5pm;  Saturdays 10am–4pm

Bridport Museum, 25 South Street, Bridport DT6 3NR

Find out more on Bridport Museum’s website.

Exterior of Chippenham Museum

Chippenham Museum

Swindon and Wiltshire History Centre in Chippenham holds the historic records for Wiltshire, including the records from the Teacher Training College at Salisbury where Thomas Hardy’s sisters Mary and Kate trained as teachers. These will be on display at Chippenham Museum.

Mary and Kate’s experiences as teachers went on to influence the characters in his novels Under the Greenwood Tree and Jude the Obscure

Open Monday to Saturday 10am–4 pm

Chippenham Museum, 9-10 Market Pl, Chippenham SN15 3HF

Find out more on Chippenham Museum’s website.

Durlston Castle Visitor Centre

Thomas Hardy and Emma lived in Swanage between 1875 and 1876 and wrote several poems and short pieces about Durlston Park. The town features in his novel The Hand of Ethelberta. In later life, Hardy and Emma returned to meet the owner of Durlston Park, George Burt.

From 17 May–7 June, Durlston Castle’s Fine Foundation Gallery will be hosting a very special exhibition of the unique work of award-winning artist Stanley Donwood, The Uncanny Scenery of a Dream. It celebrates Thomas Hardy’s poetry and the Dorset landscape. 

Open daily 10am–5pm

Durlston Castle Visitor Centre, Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, Swanage BH19 2JL

Find out more on Durlston’s website.

Gold Hill Museum

Located in Shaftesbury, this hilltop town is the real-life counterpart to Thomas Hardy’s Shaston, which features heavily in Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure. On display is the school bell from the building that inspired the Phillotsons’ school.

Visitors can explore the town through Hardy’s eyes with a downloadable self-guided Jude the Obscure walk of the town: Thomas Hardy and Shaftesbury – Gold Hill Museum

Open daily 10.30am–4.30pm until 31 October

Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury SP7 8JW

Find out more on Gold Hill Museum’s website. 

Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre is run by Dorset Council and is located in Thorncombe Woods Local Nature Reserve. It is a short walk from Thomas Hardy’s place of birth, Hardy’s Cottage (run by National Trust).

On display will be reproductions of photographs and paintings of the surrounding heathland as Hardy would have known it, done by him, his family and friends.

Open daily 10am–4pm

Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre, Higher Bockhampton DT2 8QH

Find out more on the Hardy’s Birthplace website. 

Portland Museum

Situated in the former home of Marie Stopes, a friend of Thomas Hardy and proponent of early contraception. Hardy created a fictional double of the cottage on his ‘Isle of Slingers’ as the home of Avis Caro in The Well-Beloved.

Open Wednesday to Sunday  10.30am–4pm

Portland Museum, 217 Wakeham, Easton DT5 1HS

Find out more on Portland Museum’s website.

Sherborne Museum

Sherborne was Thomas Hardy’s Sherton Abbas, which features in his novel The Woodlanders. The town was also a major film location for the 2015 Far from the Madding Crowd filming, starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen. On display is a letter from Thomas Hardy regarding the famous Sherborne Pageant of 1905, donated to the museum by one of the original Hardy Players.

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am–4.30pm

Sherborne Museum, Abbey Gatehouse, Church Ln, Sherborne DT9 3BP

Find out more on Sherborne Museum’s website.

Sturminster Newton Museum

Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma lived in Sturminster Newton while he was writing The Return of the Native. He described their time there as ‘idyllic’. On display is a reproduction of Emma’s watercolour of Blackmore Vale, from Bulbarrow and looking towards Sturminster Newton.

Open Mondays and Fridays 10am–4.00pm, Thursday and Saturday 10.00am–1.00pm

Sturminster Newton Museum, Market Cross House, Old, Market Cross, Sturminster Newton DT10 1AN

Find out more on Sturminster Newton Museum’s website. 

Wareham Museum

Wareham is situated on the edge of Thomas Hardy’s Egdon Heath and features in The Return of the Native. The museum has a collection of T E Lawrence memorabilia, a close friend of both Hardy and his wife Florence.

Open Monday to Saturday 10 am–4 pm

Wareham Museum, Town Hall, East St, Wareham BH20 4NS

Find out more on Wareham Museum’s website.

Sawfish are also called carpenter sharks...but they are rays, not sharks!

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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