Thomas Hardy's study at Max Gate in Dorchester opens

Max Gate, Dorchester. Copyright of Andrew Butler.
Image caption Hardy and his wife Emma moved into Max Gate in 1885

The study where Thomas Hardy wrote Tess of the d'Urbervilles is to open to the public for the first time.

Previously visitors to the novelist's former home at Max Gate in Dorchester could only see the hall, dining room, drawing room and garden.

Opening times at the Victorian villa, designed by Hardy, will also extend to five days a week from 1 April.

In the past it was only open for three afternoons a week for a few hours by arrangement with the tenants.

Max Gate was occupied by tenants Andrew and Marilyn Leah but now National Trust volunteer Jacqueline Dillion has taken up residence while she completes her PhD on folklore in Hardy's works.

Helen Mann, the National Trust's West Dorset property manager, said: "Jacqueline brings a tremendous knowledge of Hardy and his works to Max Gate and, thanks to the support of a whole team of volunteers, we are able to open more of the house and for longer this year than before."

A desk and many other objects once owned by Hardy feature in a recreation of his study at the nearby Dorset County Museum.

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