Dorset

Thomas Hardy visitor centre opens in Dorset

The new visitor centre at Hardy's birthplace near Dorchester Image copyright Dorset County Council
Image caption 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.

'Really excited'

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.

Image caption Thomas Hardy's cottage, where the author and poet was born in 1840, is near the new centre

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