The centre was opened by the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell (holding the Hardy’s Birthplace sign) and is a joint partnership between Dorset County Council and the National Trust
A new £1m visitor centre at the Dorset birthplace of author and poet Thomas Hardy has been officially opened.
The centre, at Thorncombe woods at Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, is close to Hardy’s Cottage.
It aims to provide visitors with more information about the novelist and the landscape that influenced his work.
The project, which secured a £525,000 from the Heritage Lottery fund, is a joint partnership between Dorset County Council and the National Trust.
Helen Mann, from the National Trust, which owns Hardy’s Cottage, said: “Thomas Hardy was born, raised and wrote his early works in this little cob and thatch cottage.
“We are really excited that visitors can now walk in Hardy’s footsteps through the landscape and experience the whole site in new and informative ways.”
The centre, which was opened by the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, also provides space for schools and community groups to use.
The county council said interactive activities and events were planned to help visitors learn about Hardy’s life and work, as well as conservation work to maintain the area.
The lottery cash provided 50% of the funding for the centre, with the balance from the National Trust, county council and additional grant-awarding bodies, including the Garfield Weston Foundation and Fine Family Foundation.
Thomas Hardy’s cottage, where the author and poet was born in 1840, is near the new centre
You can also see Thomas Hardy’s bedroom too….
Thomas Hardy died in the room, which had been kept private because it was still lived in.
The room where Thomas Hardy finished writing The Mayor of Casterbridge has opened to the public.
The study-turned-bedroom at Max Gate in Dorchester, where the author died, was kept private when the National Trust opened the house to the public in 2011.
Visitors can now see the room and a master bedroom alongside the six other rooms at the Dorset writer’s home.
Thomas Hardy was born near Dorchester in 1840 and died at Max Gate in 1928
Mike Nixon, secretary of the Thomas Hardy Society, described the move as “absolutely brilliant news”.
Hardy and his first wife Emma moved into Max Gate, which he designed, in 1885. He also lived there with his second wife Florence following Emma’s death in 1912.
Casterbridge is thought to be the name Hardy gave to Dorchester.
He also wrote Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude The Obscure and hundreds of poems while living at Max Gate.
The house was bequeathed to the National Trust by Hardy’s sister Kate.
All of Hardy’s belongings were sold after his death in 1928, but a desk and other objects once owned by the writer feature in a recreation of one of his studies at the nearby Dorset County Museum.