When an opportunity arose for us to visit Hardy’s Cottage in Dorset in September 2019, we jumped at it. Hardy’s Cottage is known because it is the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, who created some of England’s best-know literary works and characters while living here.
Not only was it a great opportunity to visit such a famous place but it is thatched! We could see it for real instead of just looking at all the lovely pictures on line. As well as the thatch, our visit was prompted by a demonstration relating to another passion of ours, which we will explain later in this article. Pictures were taken on the tour around and they speak a thousand words for sure.
Getting to at Hardy’s Cottage
The trip for us was about an hour from Thatch HQ in Hampshire, not helped by the torrential rain. We parked in the gravel car park (you have to buy a ticket), then we went to the visitor centre to pay for entrance and get our wooden token. These tokens are their way of limiting the numbers of visitors at any one time going around the property which we thought was such a simple but clever idea. The Visitor Centre is also home to ‘Under the Greenwood Tree Café’ which we found to be quite busy on such a wet day.
From the Visitor Centre was an option to walk through the woods or up a track, to get to Hardy’s Cottage. We took the former and enjoyed the view of Hardy’s Cottage as we approached from the woods.
Outside Hardy’s Cottage
On arrival, the soggy garden looked and smelled lovely. We presented our tokens at the entrance booth and then walked into the garden for our first closer view of the lovely thatched cottage. Initial observations were that the roof was looking well repaired but we knew from recent conversations that further rethatching works are scheduled.
The garden was explored briefly. We enjoyed the amount of typical plants and vegetables on show however, due to the weather, we did not stay too long. There was also a large garden shed at the top of the path to the right which contained the other reason for our visit.
Inside Hardy’s Cottage – Downstairs.
When we entered the famous old cottage through the front door we were met by a friendly lady who offered to show us round. We immediately noticed the rooms with period furniture and effects along with notes and explanations all around. It was fascinating and there was even a cosy fire burning in the hearth; most welcome on such a dingy day.
Inside Hardy’s Cottage – Upstairs
Numbers of visitors upstairs were limited by taking a book, similar to their wooden token entry system. No books at the bottom of the stairs meant you have to wait for someone to come down with a book. The walls, floors, doors and windows were all uneven, quaint and gave a great idea of how it would have been for Thomas Hardy living and writing there.
The view out of the small windows across the garden in the rain was lovely and the sound of the rain dripping off the thatch added to the atmosphere.
The Shed at Hardy’s Cottage
We then visited the garden shed where the second reason for our visit was waiting. As new beekeepers, we were drawn to the demonstration of bee skep making kindly being given by a local beekeeper. Another use for thatching straw which not everyone knows about.
After an enjoyable time talking about bees, thatching straw, skep making and also ‘having a go’ we marched back to the car park through torrential rain and rivulets along the road.
The Return Trip from Hardy’s Cottage
By the time of leaving Hardy’s Cottage, we were getting hungry so decided to stop on the way home for some food. Where else to stop for a bite to eat in Dorset, but the large thatched pub, the Worlds End?
More pictures were taken and we have to comment that there was definitely a lot of moss growth on the roof. Then we wended our way home to Hampshire.
So if you like visiting thatch, perhaps this information on Hardy’s Cottage has given you some ideas of another great place to visit. We loved it but reckon it would have been even better if the sun had been shining! Let us know or send us some pictures if you do.