Thomas Hardy's Dorset inspirations

Thomas Hardy and locations Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thomas Hardy was inspired by places throughout his native Dorset

With the release of the latest film adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd, the locations that inspired its famous writer will once again be seen on the big screen.

Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Sheen are the latest stars to bring Thomas Hardy's characters to life against the backdrop of Dorset's villages, farms, homes and coastline.

Although the location names in his stories and poems were fictional, many of them were based on real places the author knew well.

Those locations still draw legions of Hardy enthusiasts.

With much of rural Dorset having changed little since Hardy's time, a sizeable proportion of the filming for Thomas Vinterberg's version of Far from the Madding Crowd was done on location the county, including at the 16th Century manor Mapperton House.

Image copyright Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Image caption The streets of Sherborne were transformed into a 19th century fair

Hardy's romantic epic about Bathsheba Everdene unfolds from her farm in Weatherbury - thought to be Puddletown.

One of her suitors, Sergeant Troy, gambles in the port of Budmouth - what Hardy called nearby Weymouth.

The map of Dorset is peppered with other places which Hardy gave alter-egos to in his novels, short stories and poems.

Thomas Hardy's Wessex Place names

Image copyright Chris downer
Image caption A cottage in Evershot is referred to in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Dorchester - Casterbridge (The Mayor of Casterbridge)

Bridport - Port Bredy (Fellow Townsmen)

Beaminster - Emminster (Tess of the d'Urbervilles)

Melbury Bubb - Little Hintock (The Woodlanders)

Sherborne - Sherton Abbas (The Woodlanders)

Puddletown - Wetherbury (Far from the Madding Crowd)

Athelhampton -Athelhall (The Waiting Supper)

Kingston Maurward - Knapwater House (Desperate Remedies)

Bournemouth - Sandbourne (Tess of the d'Urbervilles)

Source: Visit Dorset's Hardy Trail.

Image copyright Nigel Mykura
Image caption Grey's Bridge which crosses the River Frome just outside Dorchester features in Far from the Madding Crowd

Alistair Chisolm, Dorchester's town crier who also runs Thomas Hardy walking tours, said the author was reluctant to reveal the exact locations referred to in his works.

"Hardy described his locations as 'part real, part imagined',

"It's a great game to try and guess the places mentioned in the books."

His tour around Dorchester takes in the sights of Casterbridge - of Mayor of Casterbridge fame.

The Kings Arms pub appears in the novel and the Barclays bank branch in South Street even has a blue plaque commemorating it as the "home" of the mayor.

In Evershot - referred to as Evershead in Tess of the d'Urbervilles - a thatched cottage is still known as Tess' Cottage where the heroine stopped for breakfast on her journey from Emminster (Beaminster).

The Sheaf of Arrows pub mentioned in Interlopers at the Knap was one of the author's regular haunts.

Image copyright Chris Downer/Brian Robert Marshall
Image caption Barclays Bank in Dorchester's South Street was the fictional home of the Mayor of Casterbridge

Mr Chisolm said: "With hundreds of thousands of people seeing the film around the world, some will undoubtedly get hooked on Hardy and will inevitably come and visit the places and his houses."

Hardy was born in a secluded thatched cottage in Higher Bockhampton in June 1840 where he lived for most of the first 30 years of his life.

It was the inspiration for the inspired fictional village of Mellstock in Under the Greenwood Tree.

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Media captionTalking Movies: Far From the Madding Crowd

His later works were written at Max Gate, the Dorchester townhouse where he lived from 1885 until his death in 1928.

Both Max Gate and the Higher Bockhampton cottage are currently overseen by the National Trust.

The trust's Martin Stephen, said: "Hardy was a complex man as well as a brilliant writer. He managed to pack so much into his life and his writing is full of insights into human nature.

"It's not surprising that there is still so much interest in him."

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption Hardy wrote Tess of the d'Urbervilles and hundreds of poems while living at Max Gate
Image caption Far From the Madding Crowd was written by Hardy at his cottage at Higher Bockhampton

Hardy was also a founder member of Dorset County Museum which holds more than 7,000 of his items, including a first edition of Far From The Madding Crowd from 1874.

Landmarks in Hardy's family life are also popular attractions - his parents married in Melbury village church 1839.

Hardy's first wife Emma was buried at St Michael's parish church in Stinsford, and following Hardy's death in 1928 his heart was also buried with her.

A stained glass window designed as a memorial to Hardy in 1930 can also be seen in the church, while a statue was erected in his honour in 1931 and is located at Top O'Town in Dorchester.

Image copyright chris talbot
Image caption A statue of Hardy stands at the Top o' Town in Dorchester

Secretary of the Thomas Hardy Society Mike Nixon said: "The film features some of the most stunning scenery in Dorset.

"When watching the film, you are made aware that the fields, hills and woods, become a further character in the story, just as Hardy wanted it to be."

With West Dorset already enjoying a boost from location-tourism following ITV drama Broadchurch, there are hopes the worldwide exposure will further increase visitor numbers.

In Sherborne, 10,000 leaflets have been printed for the influx of tourists expected after Sherborne Abbey and surrounding streets were transformed into a 1870s market square by the film crew.

Amanda Park, tourism development manager for West Dorset District Council said: "There is a real buzz about Sherborne at the moment with lots of media attention surrounding the release of Far From the Madding Crowd."

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