On Sunday, Year 12 pupils had the opportunity to visit Max Gate and Hardy’s Cottage, run by the National Trust, to learn more about the life of Thomas Hardy from his childhood through to the gruesome details of his burial.

Pupils visited Max Gate, the house Hardy designed and had built, and lived in with both of his wives. They sat in the study where he wrote ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and learnt about how it was published and the difficulties he faced in getting his work published initially. Pupils also heard about his notorious dog, Wessex, and saw where he was buried in the garden, and to complete the macabre details, they stood in the room where his heart was removed before burial.

At Hardy’s Cottage, pupils stood in the room where he was born and sat at the desk where he wrote ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’, understanding more of his childhood and the experiences which clearly influenced his writing.

Time at the cottage also included a poetry walk, taking in the local woods where Hardy walked and seeing the real locations which inspired him and feature in his writing. The final visit of the day was to Stinsford Church, the place where his heart is buried, separate to his body which was interred at Westminster Abbey.

This was an engaging way to begin the A Level course and gave pupils a head start with the context surrounding one of our key texts.

More photographs can be found on Facebook.