Sherborne, Dorset
Sherborne, Dorset

Here is the longer of our suggested two circular tours of Thomas Hardy's Dorset. You may want to open the map of Thomas Hardy's Dorset in a separate browser window to help you follow along the suggested itinerary. The names in parentheses are the fictional names given these places in Hardy's novels.

The Inner Tour should make for a nice day's drive - or an afternoon if you really hurry. The Outer Tour here deserves more of your time - perhaps two or three days. Of course, these tours can easily be combined to suit your preferences and interests.

Outer Tour

Weymouth (Budmouth Regis)
Hardy worked as an architect here in 1869-70, and the town features in Under the Greenwood Tree.

Woolbridge Manor here was Hardy's Wellbridge Manor, where Angel Clare and Tess spent their honeymoon.

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Hardy worked on the restoration of St. Andrew's church in 1863, and the church now hosts a permanent exhibition on Hardy's life.

Swanage (Knollsea)
Hardy lived in Swanage in 1875-6 and it was here that wrote The Hand of Ethelberta.

Bournemouth (Sandborne)
Tess lived here with Alec d'Urberville, and the town also features in The Well-Beloved and Jude the Obscure.

Poole (Havenpool)
In The Mayor of Casterbridge, Newson landed here on his return from Newfoundland. The town features in two poems, The Chapel Organist and The Mongrel.

Wimborne Minster (Warborne)
Hardy lived here from 1881-83 with his first wife Emma.

Salisbury (Melchester)
In Jude the Obscure, Jude worked at Salisbury Cathedral, and Sue and Phillotson were married in St. Thomas Church. Sue attended the Teacher Training College as did Hardy's two sisters in real life. It was at nearby Stonehenge that Tess was arrested in Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Shaftesbury (Shaston)
In Jude the Obscure, Philotson was schoolmaster here. Gold Hill in Shaftesbury offers superb views over the Blackmoor Vale.

Marnhull (Marlott)
Just outside the village is Tess Cottage, thought to be the model for Durbetfield's home in Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Sturminster Newton (Stourcastle)
Hardy and his first wife, Emma, lived here at Riverside Villa in 1876-78. Hardy called his stay here "our happiest time".

Sherborne (Sherton Abbas)
Giles Winterborne sold his apple trees in the Market Place here in The Woodlanders, and Sherborne Abbey also features in the novel

Melbury Osmond (Great Hintock)
Hardy's parents were married in the church here, and his mother grew up in a thatched house nearby. The Woodlanders final scene also takes place in the churchyard.

Beaminster (Emminster)
In Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Angel Clare's father was vicar here.

Bridport (Port Bredy)
Bridport is the setting for the story Fellow-Townsmen, and the nearby secluded harbour of West Bay is mentioned in The Woodlanders.

Portland (Isle of Slingers)
The Isle of Portland, joined to the mainland by the narrow strand of Chesil Beach, is the setting for The Well-Beloved.

For a shorter tour of Thomas Hardy Country, click here.
Thomas Hardy Biography

Related articles:
A Three Day Slice of English Country Life
Chedington village
Lyme Regis