Wednesday, 21 October 2015

'Under the Greenwood Tree'


'Far from the Madding Crowd'
This is Dorset - Hardy country
It was here, under a deep cosy thatch, that Thomas Hardy was born, and where he wrote some of his most famous works gazing out of the windows to Thorncombe Wood and beyond
On this settle, by the fireplace, the family would gather to tell stories, sing songs, play their fiddles, celebrate birthdays and Christmas, mourn the loss of family and friends, and enjoy all the customs and traditions of Dorset.

Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in

She sat here in her chair, 
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!
'The Self-Unseeing'
'Once more the cauldron of the sun
smears the bookcase with winy red,
And here my page is, and there my bed,
And the apple-tree shadows travel along
Soon their intangible track will be run,
And dusk grow strong
And they have fled'
From 'The Sun on the Bookcase'

As a young boy Thomas would sit on the window seat or at his little old table writing poems about the countryside. Four of his early novels were written here including 'Under the Greenwood Tree' and 'Far From the Madding Crowd'.
Hardy's little old table had a special place in his heart as it was a gift from his mother, so much so he wrote a poem about it:

Creak, little wood thing, creak,
When I touch you with elbow or knee;
That is the way you speak
Of one who gave you to me!

You, little table, she brought -
Brought me with her own hand
As she looked at me with a thought
That I did not understand.

Whoever owns it anon,
And hears it, will never know
What a history hangs upon
This creak from long ago

The little table shown here is a replica - the original now resides in the Dorset County Museum 
Thomas Hardy - 1840 - 1928
One of the most renowned poets and novelists in English literary history. 
When he died his ashes were deposited in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, and his heart was interred in the graveyard at Stinsford Church, Dorset, where his parents, grandparents, and his first wife were buried.

52 comments:

  1. That is a definite one for my list of places to visit. I feel so at home already, there is even scaffolding around the chimney!

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    1. Well spotted Jessica - I tried to hide it but did not reckon on your sharp eyes.

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  2. He lived in a very pretty place, very inspiring to write about..

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    1. Yes, he was just a country boy, but always had a way with words even when young.

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  3. Having so recently enjoyed the new film version of 'Madding Crowd', I so enjoyed this post, Rosemary. To visit Hardy's own house, the sweet thatched cottage where he produced these famous works would be such a joy. The lovely old settle by the fireplace looks so authentic - I wonder if it was always there, and rather hope it was. I loved when we visited Dickens' London house, especially as I was given the opportunity to wind his grandfather clock. It is very special to feel in contact with our literary heros from the past!

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    1. Like you Patricia I recently saw the film which I loved. It was a strange feeling being in his bedroom where he actually wrote it.
      Yes, everything in the house is as it was, apart from the little writing table, which lives just down the road in the museum.

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  4. Aaah, Dear Thomas Hardy,
    I love his works, when reading into your post, a warm feeling came over me. It took me back to my 20's + when i read his books, i was locked into every chapter, as though i was part of the novel.
    What a beautiful place he lived in , and how great to have visited his home, to see where he wrote.
    I always imagine him being a man of the people. The pages of his books keep you locked in with suspense and sadness too.
    I have not heard yet of the new film " Far from the Maddening Crowd".. I hope we get it here soon.
    Old chairs and sofas near a fire can tell many a tale of times gone by.
    Thank you for this super post Rosemary.
    I really never knew where he lived.
    xx

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    1. If you get the chance Val try and see the film. It is beautifully photographed and conveys the book well. I am pleased that you enjoyed the post Val, it was very atmospheric to be in the house where he was born and grew up, a place that he loved.

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    2. Hardy, has been on my mind since I read this wonderful post.
      As I still haven't read all his books.. I gave myself the choice.. did I want paper, or the ibooks.
      I have no more room for books, and so I opted for the latter .. I have bought 'Under the greenwood tree' and can't wait to start reading. ( I named my little dog Hardy, after Thomas Hardy).x

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    3. That is lovely Val - I intend to re-read some of our books too♡

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  5. THANKYOU a thousand times. It is my favourite place to visit and so atmospheric - you feel TH is just in the next room. He is my favourite author (along with Edward Thomas) and I have more books by and about him than any other author (though Edward Thomas is a close second). Your post was just like stepping back in time to when I was there last. I had a lovely chat with the lady in charge and afterwards sent her Aquilegia seeds from my garden to be planted in his.

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this post, the walls seem to ooze Thomas Hardy. How lovely to think that some of your Aquilegias are flowering in his garden.

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  6. This is great, thanks! I enjoy reading Hardy, although he can be a bit of a depressing read. Or perhaps he was just a clear-eyed realist. Anyway, I enjoyed the new "Madding Crowd" movie although it was a bit slow in places.

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    1. When I was young, and most likely idealistic, I used to find Thomas Hardy's books a compelling read, but also found them rather gloomy and sad as you mention. As I get older I think that he was probably much more in tune with the realities existing in the world filled with trials and tribulations then I ever realised before.

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  7. What a special bench at the open fire place.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. They were designed with high backs to keep people warmer during the winter months protecting them from cold draughts.

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  8. I would love to volunteer to help maintain the garden here if i wasn't working! Daisy always loved walking in the woods surrounding Hardy's cottage. I have just finished reading " Wessex Tales", it was recommended by our neighbour as one of the stories features Bridport and West Bay. Although I have read and enjoyed many of Hardy's novels I hadn't read this one before. You did manage to see so much on your short break! Sarah x

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    1. We only had one night but we had two whole days. Travelling down from Porlock we arrived at Hardy's cottage well before lunch, and then the next day we were free immediately following breakfast. We got up early in order to make the most of the time.
      I am going to re-read some of my Hardy books again too.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, I know that in England they are also working hard to preserve the overall landscape that inspired Hardy, in additional to his personal possessions. Apparently Hardy was wrong about future owners not understanding the meaning of his table. Incidentally, I have about a dozen Hardy novels in Taiwan, including such favorites as The Trumpet Major, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and the Mayor of Casterbridge.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I was amused by Hardy's little poem about his table which he actually wrote as a young boy. I don't expect that he would ever have imagined that his books would become known around the world or even that so many of them would be made into films.

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    1. It's a lovely secluded cottage hidden away in the middle of the woods

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  11. The woods are wonderful...the home so homely. Nothing like that have we here..

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    1. I think that this is quintessentially English

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  12. Lovely. It looks as though you had the house all to yourself. Again, another lovely place for my list. Thanks.

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    1. I will do anything I can to avoid getting people in my photos, however, it wasn't busy

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  13. Lovely post Rosemary and such a beautiful place to visit. P x

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    1. It was in a delightful spot in the woods, I had imagined that it would be in a village.

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  14. Beautiful! Idyllic beyond anything we have here in New England.

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    1. It is very English with the thatched country cottage hidden away in the forest

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  15. A lovely place. I like old places to be a bit more ramshackle though I do know that it is not possible in the case of Hardy's cottage - always glad that the N. Trust takes such care in its renovations.

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    1. It is all very simple Jenny, with rustic country furniture, simple plainly decorated walls and no carpets.

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  16. Another place I'd love to visit as I'm a huge Thomas Hardy fan, in fact Under the Greenwood Tree is on my bedside table at the moment!

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    1. Being completely surrounded by trees you can sense that the story originated there

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  17. How lovely to have a peek into where he lived, and what a place , like picked from a fairy tale !

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    1. Yes, could well imagine gnomes in the wood and fairies in the garden!

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  18. Oh I think living there would give you great inspiration to write! No so sure I could get very comfortable on that wooded bench though. Wonderful post. I sure would like to follow you around.

    You may want to come back and read the new post about the seeds....Janey

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    1. We sat on the wooden settle beside the fire and it was intimate and cosy with the high back.

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  19. I haven’t read the major Under the Greenwood Tree or Far from the Madding Crowd but only the minor The Pair of Blue Eyes. Hardy’s cottage is my favorite for its rustic simplicity and British taste, as I have admired some such sites in this blog. I especially like the wooden chair by the fireplace.

    Yoko

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    1. It was a lovely place to visit hidden in the woods, and you could sense that it would be a good place to sit and write.

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  20. I would love to sit there, writing a book...what a lovely place!
    Warm hug,
    Titti

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    1. It us a cosy, quiet, and peaceful place even today - no traffic noise, just the twittering of the birds.

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  21. I loved everything about this Rosemary; the lovely cottage, inside and out - the old books - so simple yet homely. He had a kind face. I did not know he was a poet as well as an author - I loved the poems that you quoted - I think I will look him up as his kind of poems appeal to my country heart. You say this is Hardy country - do you mean Gloucestershire?

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    1. I too love his poems Elaine, these say so much about how he thought as a young boy, they are gentle, and show a great insight and understanding.
      This is Dorset, where he set his imaginary county, which he called Wessex.
      I am so pleased that you enjoyed it - thank you

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  22. I felt as though I was walking through each room. How peaceful the house seems.
    I have put off reading your posts, promising myself the treat of reading them at my husband's computer with a lovely big monitor, the better to enjoy your pictures. Life just isn't providing that opportunity so I have given up and will read where and when I can. I enjoy your posts very much.

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    1. That is very kind of you H, you have made my day as I drink my first coffee of the morning - thank you.
      I am pleased that the ambience of Hardy's birthplace and home conveyed itself to you - it is exactly as the title says "Under the Greenwood Tree" and Far from the Madding Crowd".

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  23. Dear Rosemary, thank you for all these lovely photos giving us a glimpse of Hardy's life! I read quite a lot of his books, and now I see his picture (it shows a similarity to our poet Theodore Fontane).

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    1. I am going to Google 'Theodore' Britta - Hardy looks a gentle, kind man with a twinkle in his eye.

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  24. Nice! It's exactly how I'd imagine his home. Lovely photos and matching verse.

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    1. I was delighted when we arrived to find that it was in the middle of a wood with no proper roads or signs of modern civilisation

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  25. A lovely post, words matching pictures.

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    1. Thank you Brian so pleased that you enjoyed it

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