Paying my respects: Tracey’s postcard from Dorset

Hardy Window at St Michael's Church Stinsford

Why I went…

I was fortunate enough to attend the birthday celebration weekend for Thomas Hardy’s 175th birthday in Dorchester recently, organized by The Thomas Hardy Society. Over the past year I have had a number of opportunities to visit Hardy’s birthplace cottage at Bockhampton, and his house Max Gate outside Dorchester, along with St. Michael’s Church in Stinsford where he and his family are buried, but June 2015 was the first time I had been able to participate in official birthday celebrations, culminating in a wreath-laying ceremony at his grave. I felt that this would be a perfect opportunity to add another layer of depth to my immersion in all things Hardyan.

What I got out of the experience…

To see inside the church Hardy and his family had worshipped at for many generations, and to hear a talk given on the subject of Hardy and faith within this lovely building was a genuinely uplifting experience. Being able to pay homage to the great man alongside dozens of other devotees beside his grave was most fulfilling. It has always amused me that Hardy and both of his wives occupy the same grave, I often wonder at what conversations may go on between the three! On the left of his grave is the one shared by his brother Henry and his two sisters Mary and Kate. Of the four siblings, Thomas was the only one to be married, and there were no offspring. On the right of Hardy’s grave is that shared by his parents, and next to that, the one shared by his grandparents. The graveyard itself is beautiful and secluded, and to be able to sit and think amongst such distinguished company is an honour!

Wreath on Hardy's Grave

Creative Commons Licence

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