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THOMAS HARDY'S WESSEX



MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO
DALLAS • SAN FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.

TORONTO




. ^/i f//r (/ti/u/r/i (i/ . fffw (/(i/r



THOMAS HARDY'S
WESSEX



BY

HERMANN LEA



ILLUSTRATED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
BY THE AUTHOR



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

1913






COPYRIGHT



CONTENTS



PAGE

Introduction ........ xvii



PART I

NOVELS OF CHARACTER AND ENVIRONMENT

CHAPTER I

" Tess of the D'Urbervilles "..... 3

CHAPTER II

"Far from the Madding Crowd" . . . . 32

CHAPTER III
"Jude the Obscure" ....... 45

CHAPTER IV

"The Return of the Native" . . . . . 67

CHAPTER V

" The Mayor of Casterbridge " 83

V

329086






PAGE



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY

CHAPTER VI
"The Woodlanders " . . . .. . . .107

CHAPTER Vn

" Under the Greenwood Tree, or The Mellstock

Quire" 118

CHAPTER VHI

" Life's Little Ironies " and " A Few Crusted

Characters" 129

CHAPTER IX
"Wessex Tales" . .146



PART H

ROMANCES AND FANTASIES

CHAPTER I
"A Pair of Blue Eyes" 165

CHAPTER II
"The Trumpet-Major and Robert his Brother" . 184

CHAPTER III

"Two on a Tower" 194

vi



CONTENTS



CHAPTER IV



PAGE



The Well-Beloved" . . . . . . .201

CHAPTER V

A Group of Noble Dames" . . . . .212



PART III

NOVELS OF INGENUITY

CHAPTER I
"Desperate Remedies" . . . . . -233

CHAPTER II
"The Hand of Ethelberta" ..... 240

CHAPTER HI

"A Laodicean" . . . . . . . .251

PART IV

POETICAL WORKS

CHAPTER I

"Wessex Poems" 259

vii



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY



CHAPTER II



i'AGE



"Poems of the Past and the Present" . . . 268

CHAPTER III
"The Dynasts" 276

CHAPTER IV

"Time's Laughing-stocks" . . . . . .293

INDEX 315



Vlll



ILLUSTRATIONS



3-
4.

5-
6.

7.
8.

9-
10.
1 1.
12.

13-
14.

15-
16.

17.
18

19-
20.
21.

22.

23-

24.
25.
26.

27.



Portrait of Mr. Thomas Hardy

The Birthplace of Mr. Thomas Hardy

Max Gate — The Residence of Mr. Thomas Hardy

The Blackmoor Vale

AlarnhuU

The Mill, Sturminster Newton

Pentridge Church

The " Fleur-de-Lis," Cranborne .

A Typical Text ....

Water Meadows in the Froom Valley

The River Froom

West Stafford Church . . ' .

Wool-Bridge House

Bindon Abbey ....

The Abbot's Coffin, Bindon Abbey

The Old Fish-Ponds, Bindon Abbey

Bindon Mill ....

Beaminster Church

The Castle Inn, Maiden Newton .

Beaminster Vicarage

The Cottage by the Church, Evershot

The Road towards Cross-in-Hand, Evershot

Bere Regis Church

The Turberville Window, Bere Regis Church

Moyle's Court

Stonehenge

Winchester

Winchester Gaol .

Puddletown Village

Waterson House .

ix



PAGE

Frontispiece
xix
xxi
5
5
7
7.

9
10

13
13
15
15
17
17
19
19
21
21
23
23
26
26
28
28
30
30
31
33
33



28.

29.
30.
31-
32.
33.
34-
35-
36.

38.

39.
40.

41.
42.

43-
44.
45-
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.

51-

52.
53.
54.

55-
56.

57.
58.

59.
60.
61.
62.
63.
64-
65.
66.
67.



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY



Druce Farm

Chine Hill

The Sheep- Wash, Druce

Puddletown Church

The Gallery, Puddletown Church

The South Porch, Puddletown Church

Interior of the Buck's Head Inn, Troytown

Lulworth Cove

Woodbury Hill .

The Sheep Fair, Woodbury Hill .

The Pleasure Fair, Woodbury Hill

The Main Thoroughfare, Woodbury Hill

The Green, Great Fawley

The Well, Great Fawley .

The Red House Barn

Wantage

Cottage at Letcombe Bassett

Magdalen Bridge, Oxford

Porch of St. Mary-the- Virgin, Oxford

The School-House, Cumnor

The Training College, Salisbury .

Salisbury Cathedral

North Gate, Salisbury

The Church of St. Thomas, Salisbury

Newbury

Shaftesbury

Old Grove's-Place, Shaftesbury

The George Hotel, Reading

The School-House, Great Fawley

Great Fawley Church

Queen's College, Oxford

The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford

Wareham Heath

Puddletown Heath

Rainbarrow

The Duck Dairy House

Bhompston Farm



Affpuddle Church
Brickyard Cottage,
Throop Corner .



Afifpuddie Heath



ILLUSTRATIONS



68.
69.
70.

71.

72.

73-
7A-
75-
76.

78.

79-
80.
81.
82.

83.
84.
85.
86.
87.
88.
89.
90.

91.
92.

93-
94.
95.
96.

97-

98.

99.

100.

lOI.

102.
103.
104.
105.
106.
107.



The Weir, Woodsford Meadows

The Fair Ground, Weyhill

Dorchester from the East

The King's Arms, Dorchester .

The Bath and Bristol Road, Dorchester

The Amphitheatre, Dorchester .

The West Walks, Dorchester

The River Path, Dorchester

Friary Mill, Dorchester.

Weir Hole near Friary Mill, Dorchester

Colliton House, Dorchester

The Mask, Colliton House

Darner's Barn, Dorchester

The Swan Bridge, Dorchester .

Grey's Bridge, Dorchester

The Back of Mill Street, Dorchester

Ten Hatches Weir, Dorchester .

A Saw-Pit near Middlemarsh

Woodlands near Minterne

High-Stoy

View from High-Stoy, looking towards Dogbury

View from High-Stoy

Hermitage Church

Revels Farm

Milton Abbey .

The Market Place, Sherborne .

A Manuscript Music-Book

Bockhampton Cross Roads

Upper Bockhampton

The Bridge and Riverside House, Lower

Stinsford Vicarage

The Church Gate, Stinsford

The Keeper's Cottage, Yellowham Wood

The Ship Inn, Upwey .

The Path into Grey's Wood

Yellowham Hill

Shinfield Church

Shinfield Vicarage

The Parish Church, Taunton

W^ells ....



Hill



Bockhampton



PAGE

81

85

85

91
91

93
93
95
95
97
97
99
99

lOI
lOI

103
103
109
109
1 1 1
1 1 1
113
113
115
115
116
119
119
121
121
123
123
125
125
127
127
131
131
133
133



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY



1 08. West Coker . . . .


.


109. The Cathedral Close, Salisbury .


.


no. Old Sarum (Salisbury) . . . .




III. Poole ......




112. The Quay, Poole . . . .




113. Tincleton Village . . . .




114. Pydelhinton Church . . . .




1 1 5. Frampton Church . . . .




116. Bincombe Village . . . .




117. Bincombe Church




118. Holme Farm . . . . .




119. The Ruins of the Old Church, Stoke




120. Holme Bridge . . . . .




121. The Hangman's Cottage, Dorchester




122. Bridport . . . . .




123. Melbury Osmund . . . '




124. Melbury Osmund




125. The White Horse Hotel, Maiden Newton




126, Owermoigne Church




127. Owermoigne Village




128. Warm well Cross ...




129. Launceston ....




130. St. Juliot Rectory




131. The Vallency Valley




132. St. JuHot Church, Cornwall, before Restoration i


872 .


133. St. Juliot Church from Vallency Valley .




134. Pentargan Bay .




135. Beeny High Cliff (in the distance)




136. Boscastle Harbour




137. Launceston ....




138. The White Hart Hotel, Launceston




139. Lesnewth Church




140. Bincombe Church




141. Upwey Mill ....




142. Sutton Poyntz ....




143. Poxwell House ....




144. View from Ridgeway Hill, looking towards Dorc


hester .


145. The Statue of King George, Weymouth .




146. The White Horse, Preston




147. Looking up the Harbour, Weymouth





Xll



ILLUSTRATIONS



148.


Faringdon Ruin




PAGE
193


149.


Charborough Park Entrance Gates


195


150.


Charborough Tower ....


195


151.


Charborough House ....


198


152.


The Minster and Grammar School, Wimborne .


198


^53-


Winterborne Zelstone ....


199


154.


The Palace, Salisbury ....


199


155-


Entrance to Pennsylvania Castle, Portland


205


156.


Cottage near Church-Hope, Portland


205


157.


Cave Hole, Portland ....


207


158.


Church-Hope, Portland .


.


207


159^


Rufus Castle, Portland .


.


209


160.


Pennsylvania Castle, Portland




209


161.


Sandsfoot Castle




21 I


162.


Hope Cove, Portland




21 I


163.


The Acorn Inn, Evershot




213


164.


Horton Inn




213


165.


Wilton House .




216


166.


The Bridge, Wilton House




216


167.


The Terrace, Wilton House




217


168.


Winchester Cathedral .




217


169.


Broadlands




219


170.


Embley House .




219


171.


Longleat




221


172.


Marwell Hall .




221


173-


The Gateway, Stalbridge Park




223


174-


The Market-Cross, Stalbridge




223


175-


Stalbridge Village




224


176.


Sherborne Castle




224


177.


Sherborne Castle




226


178.


Wolfeton House


.


226


179.


The Gate-House, Wolfeton House


228


180.


Kingston Maurward House


235


181.


The Summer House or Temple, Kingston Park .


235


182.


The Old Manor-House, Kingston Park .


237


183.


Tolpuddle Church and the Manor Farm


237


184.


W^areham .....


241


185.


St. Martin's Church, Wareham .


241


186.


Lytchett Heath .....


243


187.


The Old Mill-Pond, Swanage .


243




xiii







THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY



1 88. Corfe Castle

189. Peter's Finger Inn, Lytchett Minster

190. St. Mary's Church, Swanage

191. The Castle Inn, Corfe Castle

192. Dunster Castle .

193. Dunster Village and Castle

194. Dunster Village

195. The Luttrell Arms Hotel, Dunster

196. The Church, Dunster

197. High West Street, Dorchester

198. Maiden Castle, Dorchester

199. The Phoenix Hotel, Dorchester

200. The Gateway, Basing House

201. Stinsford Church

202. Woods near Hillfield

203. The Pulpit Rock, Portland Bill

204. Athelhampton Hall

205. Remains of Cerne Abbey

206. Cerne Abbas

207. Cross-in-Hand .

208. At the Apex of Ridgevvay Hill

209. Bincombe Down

210. Weymouth from the Sea

211. Rainbarrows

212. Black Hill, Bere Regis .

213. The Giant, Cerne Abbas

214. The Gloucester Hotel, Weymouth

215. Captain Hardy's House, Portisham

216. The "Victory"

217. Shockerwick House

218. Fordington Vicarage

219. Fordington Church

220. The Barracks, Dorchester

221. Waterstone Ridge

222. Manor-House, Muston .

223. Benvill Lane

224. Wynyard's Gap Inn

225. Marshall's Elm

226. Windwhistle Inn

227. The White Horse Inn, Middlemarsh

xiv



ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

228. The Hanging-Chamber, Ilchester Gaol . . . 302

229. Glastonbury Tor ..... 302

230. Pydelhinton ...... 304

231. Poundbury Weir, Dorchester .... 304

232. Ten Hatches Weir, Dorchester .... 306

233. Hardy Monument on Blackdown . . . 306

234. Cottage on Toller Down .... 308

235. Puddletown Church ..... 308

236. Cottage, once an Inn, Lower Bockhampton . . 310

237. The Path beside the River, Lower Bockhampton . 310

238. The Froom near Bockhampton . . . .311

239. Church Lane, Stinsford . . . .311

240. Clyffe Clump . . . . . -3^3
Map of the Wessex of the Novels and Poems At end of Volume



XV



INTRODUCTION

The object of this book, as its title indicates, is to
depict the Wessex country of Thomas Hardy, with
a view to discovering the real places which served as
bases for the descriptions of scenery and backgrounds
given us in the novels and poems. But before
commencing our survey I should like to direct
attention to certain facts which it seems necessary to
grasp for the proper understanding of such dis-
coveries as we shall presently make.

To begin, we win take a general glance at the
tract of country covered by our author. There has
been an impression current amongst some people that
Thomas Hardy's Wessex is limited to the county of
Dorset, but we have it on his own assurance that the
Wessex of the novels and poems is practically identical
with the Wessex of history, and includes the counties
of Berkshire, Wilts, Somerset, Hampshire, Dorset,
and Devon — either wholly or in part. We are told in
the preface to " A Pair of Blue Eyes " that " the shore
and country about ' Castle Boterel ' (approximately
Boscastle) is the farthest westward of all those con-
venient corners wherein I have ventured to erect my
theatre . . . and it lies near to, or no great way
beyond, the vague border of the Wessex kingdom."
The author's ingenious disinterment of the old name
leads us to consider for a moment the actual boundaries
of this former kingdom. They can only be guessed at.
According to the Saxon Chronicle, the kingdom was

xvii



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY

founded by the Prince Cerdic and Cynric his son, who
landed in the year 494, and who, after some successful
battles against the Welsh, became kings in 519. We
have only conjecture to go upon, but it seems probable
that southern Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
were the earliest locations. Whether Cerdic — a
name probably of Welsh origin — actually founded
the kingdom of Wessex must remain a matter for
debate. But wherever it was founded, and by w^hom-
soever, we have a certain amount of testimony to
prove that its boundaries were considerably expanded
during the reign of Ceawlin (560 to 592), and in 571
Aylesbury and the upper part of the Thames Valley
were conquered by the West Saxons ; and again,
in 577, Cirencester, Bath, and Gloucester likewise
succumbed. A large portion of Somerset was annexed
by Cenwalh (643 to 672), and by the end of the
seventh century the rest of that county and certain
parts of Devonshire were added. The area now
reached is that usually shown on maps, and roughly
corresponds with that adopted by our author. During
the reign of Ecgberht (808 to 836) Sussex, Surrey,
Kent, and Essex became an integral portion of
Wessex. Then followed an interval during which
there were further annexations, certain divisions, some
reunions, until in 871 the whole kingdom passed to
Alfred, except such parts as were under Danish rule.

In 878 a peace was established between Alfred of
Wessex and the Danes, by which it was agreed that
the boundary line should be regarded as the Thames,
northward up the Lea to its source, thence to Bedford,
and along the Ouse to Watling Street — the old Roman
road from London to Chester. By this treaty, London,
Middlesex, and part of Hertford, became an absolute
part of Wessex. During the years of comparative
peace which ensued, Alfred inaugurated the first
attempts at defensive warfare, as well as a restoration
of the schools. Later he was engaged in active
warfare with the Danes, and when he died in 900 he

xviii



INTRODUCTION

left the kingdom of Wessex still unconquered. From
that time, Edward the Elder, his son, worked hard in
subduing the Danes and absorbing them among his
own subjects until the year 918, when the last of the
Danish Kings of East Anglia was slain, and that
realm annexed. Then followed many vicissitudes,
ending in the Norman Conquest.

It is now more than twenty years since I first
became interested in tracing the topographical features
of the Wessex Novels, and as I have lived in Wessex
continuously during that period, and have travelled







The Birthplace of Mr. Thomas Hardy.



over practically all the main roads, and many of the
lanes and by-roads — traversing more than 150,000
miles on a cycle, in a car, on foot — I have had peculiar
opportunities for following out my hobby. In 1904
I wrote a small guide-book to such portions of the
scenery as came within the boundary of Dorset ; but
this was in no sense exhaustive, and dealt only with
some of the principal backgrounds. For the purposes
of the present book I have revisited every one of the
spots described.

My attention has frequently been drawn to in-
exactitudes or misstatements that have appeared in



XIX



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY

the many guide-books to the Wessex country which
have already been published. These have very likely
arisen through a desire on the part of the writer to
make the fictitious places conform to the real in an
absolute, dogmatic manner. Should any such in-
accuracies have crept into the present book I must
ask my readers' kindly indulgence. I have not read
any of the published guide-books, fearing lest I might
be led into a form of plagiarism which would be
distasteful. References have been made to certain
county histories and other recognised works of
authority, but the bulk of the descriptions have been
written on the actual spots visited.

To those who desire to follow an itinerary with
detailed exactitude I would suggest reference to the
one-inch ordnance maps of the district. These furnish
all necessary information as to roads, lanes, paths,
woodlands, and hills.

In the text of the Wessex Novels are many
-I dialectic words, phrases, and idioms, most of which
may still be heard occasionally in the remoter districts.
Probably, as William Barnes held, the speech of Dorset
and the adjoining counties was the outcome of the
Anglo-Saxon language rather than a mere dialect,
nearly all of the words being traceable to their origin.
The New Oxford Dictionary includes a number of
these dialectic expressions which have been supplied
by the author of the Wessex volumes.

The task of writing this book has been a very
pleasant one, providing many interesting experiences ;
and my thanks are due to those who have aided me,
either by giving information or by permitting me
to photograph their houses. To more than any one
else I am indebted to Mr. Hardy himself for correcting
me in a few identifications of some of the places which,
owing to the meagre clues in the text, defied discovery
by any other means.

In regard to the more intimate details which we
are setting out to elucidate, it may be said first that

XX



INTRODUCTION

with the characters themselves I have, of course,
nothing to do. This may appear an unnecessary
observation, till I mention that more than one curious
inquirer has asked me whether such-or-such a character
in one of the stories is not intended to be a portrait

of X , and has then given the name of a person

living in or near the place which the fictitious name
is supposed to represent. Next, the houses, churches,
and other architectural features which are to claim




Max Gate — The Residence of Mr. Thomas Hardy.



our attention are plainly not each depicted from one
real model — for some are undoubtedly composite^
structures. I In some cases there are distinct clues
from which we may draw our deductions : described
peculiarities in the fabric of a building ; the interchange
of place and character names ; the construction of the
name itself, relating to some obvious characteristic of
a town or village. The natural configurations, such
as the hills, heaths, downs, and woods, are, for the
most part, so faithfully pictured that we may venture

xxi



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY

to be almost dogmatic in reconciling them with their
counterparts, while many of them appear under their
established names.

Nevertheless, I want to make it very clear at the
outset that the descriptions given in the novels and
poems must be regarded in their totality as those of
imaginative places. The exact Wessex of the books
exists nowhere outside them, as Mr. Hardy himself
indeed has hinted. Thus, instead of declaring
Casterbridge to be Dorchester, we dare only say that
the presentment is undoubtedly founded on salient
traits in the real town. ^Certain stages, certain scenery
and backgrounds, are essential to the setting of every
drama, but it has been left forThomas Hardy to describe
such accessories in a manner that probably no other
writer, before or since, has ever accomplished. This
fact it is which makes our work both easier and at the
J same time more interesting. The realistic treatment
V which the setting of the stories receives creates rather
a dangerous position for the topographer, since there
is an undoubted tendency to fall into the error of
confusing the ideal with the actual.

Should any disappointment arise in the minds of
those who visit the existing places — on account of
any want of similarity between these and the book
descriptions — he may be reminded, in addition, that
most of the stories were written many years ago, and
that, in the interval which has now elapsed, Time and
the hand of man have been responsible for many
alterations, and have brought about actual obliterations
of what were close originals at the date of portrayal.
When the Wessex writer first turned his attention to
verse and fiction he can have had no conception of the
prominence to which he would attain among living
authors — nor could he have anticipated the searching
nature of the investigations that would be made into
the scenery which served him as pattern.

There is another point to which I should like to
draw attention, and that is the strange manner in

xxii



INTRODUCTION

which the scenery adapts itself to, and identifies itself
with, the characters themselves. We have a striking
instance of this in the life-history of Tess. Her
child-character develops at Marlott (Marnhull), an
unsophisticated village somewhat isolated from the
outside world, remote from any large town, and where
she is little prepared to cope with a man of the world
such as Alec d'Urberville. It is in the sombre shades
of Cranborne Chase, dark with its primeval yews and
oaks, that her betrayal is effected. It is in the Froom
Valley, within sight and sound of the crystal streams,
where the grass grows lush and the air is fragrant
with the scents of many flowers— the whole scene
typical of growth — that we find the creation and
expansion and maturing of that all-absorbing love
which was to remain with her throughout her life.
It is at Wellbi'idge that her repulse by Clare and her
realisation of the full bitterness of life comes to her —
that ancient home of her ancestors, a place filled with
associations of a mouldy past, the home of those
gruesome portraits, where the very atmosphere seems
to be charged with things sinister. The phase of her
hopelessness finds her at Flintcomb-Ash, a spot cursed
by sterility, where Nature looks with an unkindly eye,
and blesses not the labour of man's hand. When in
utter despair she becomes callous and joins d'Urberville,
it is at Sandborne we find her — that place of *' fashion-
able promenades and new villas." And at last, when
the officers of the law demand her as a victim to the
merciless Mosaic recrimination dictated by a lust for
revenge, the scene is Stonehenge, where the ancient
Druids, the representatives of a god whose anger and
love of destruction could only be appeased by the
shedding of innocent blood, had sacrificed their
thousands. We have only touched on a few instances,
but the other scenes are equallv appropriate.

H. L.



XXIU



PART I

NOVELS OF CHARACTER AND ENVIRONMENT



CHAPTER I

" TESS OF THE d'uRBERVILLES "

This being the most widely read of the Wessex
Novels, it is convenient to place it first in the ex-
amination of their scenery and backgrounds. The
action takes place over a wide stretch of country —
from Salisbury Plain in the north to Dorchester in the
south ; from the New Forest in the east to Beaminster
in the west. In leading my readers over the ground
covered by the different scenes, and in pointing out
certain towns, villages, houses, and natural landmarks,
it must be clearly understood — as I have already
shown in the Introduction — that these are merely
originals which approximate to the imaginative back-
grounds set up by our author. In the volume with
which we are now dealing such features have been
rendered more realistically than in some others, and
accordingly we find little difficulty in reconciling the
actual with the ideal.

The story opens by introducing us to John Durbey-
field as he journeys homewards to Mar lot t from
Shaston, and the meeting with Parson Tringham,
"the antiquary of Stagfoot Lane (Hartfoot Lane),"
which reveals to him that the name of Durbeyfield is
synonymous with d'Urberville — obviously a close
imitation of the real name of a family now extinct in
the county.

We will precede Durbeyfield and enter the village
of Marlott (Marnhull, more or less). It "lay amid

3



THE WESSEX OF THOMAS HARDY

the north-eastern undulations of the beautiful Vale of
Blakemoor or Blackmoor ... in which the fields are
never brown and the springs never dry" (i). The
"Forest of the White Hart" is an alternative name
for the valley which our author occasionally employs.
Marnhull would seem to be a corruption of its original
name of Marlhill, a more significant title, referring
apparently to the white clay or marl which crops up
there and which, after exposure to the air, hardens
into a freestone. The church and many of the houses
are built of it. Marnhull was once quite a considerable
place ; the remains of many streets may be traced
where the houses have entirely disappeared. The


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