Stinsford Village Dorchester
Dorset DT2
 

 

The tiny Dorset village of Stinsford may not be well known, but its most famous resident certainly is.  Here, in St Michael’s churchyard, is buried the heart of famous English novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy.

St Michael’s is an attractive 13th century church with a squat, square 14th century tower.
 
A True Parish Church
It is a true parish church, surrounded by a churchyard full of old weather-beaten stones marking the graves of countless generations of local families, including the Hardys.
 
This church has been the focus of Stinsford parish life for centuries and witnessed the baptisms, weddings, funerals and celebrations of its local community.
 
Music was provided by a choir accompanied by a church band. Thomas Hardy, his father and grandfather were all church musicians. Unfortunately the original musicians’ gallery was demolished but it has now been replaced with a fine organ and gallery in the west end.
 
Thomas was baptised in this church, played the violin in the choir, taught Sunday school as a youth of 15, and attended services every week when living in Dorchester . Several generations of Hardys are buried in the churchyard including his two wives and it was his desire to be buried with the rest of his family.
 
Sadly, this Victorian Man of Letters was to be denied his dearest wish.
 
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Hardy's Heart is Buried Here 
Public opinion was that he should be honoured by being buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. His family knew of his wish to be laid to rest in the place he loved most. A compromise was reached – his heart was buried with his first wife in St Michael’s churchyard and his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey.
 
Stinsford is the very heart of ‘Hardy country’ and features as ‘Mellstock’ in Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree. Thomas was born in a woodland cottage at Higher Bockhampton. He lived there with his parents and grandmother for the first 22 years of his life, returning later after living in London.
 
The village is only a mile (1.6 km) from Dorchester where Thomas was educated and apprenticed as an architect. This required a six mile (9.7 km) walk from his home at Higher Bockhampton every day so he knew every inch of the surrounding countryside.
 
Hardy Family Graves
To find the Hardy family graves, enter the churchyard through the main entrance gate by the car park. Follow the pathway ahead and take the left-hand fork.
 
On the left are the three horizontal Hardy tombs. The first contains Thomas’s siblings Mary, Henry and Katherine; the second contains Thomas’s two wives Emma and Florence and Thomas’s heart and the third his parents Thomas and Jemima. The upright stones commemorate Grandfather Thomas, Grandmother Mary and an uncle, aunt and cousin.
 
There is excellent information on Thomas Hardy in this website.
 
Getting There
Stinsford is on the A35 when entering Dorchester from the east, only some 2 miles (3 km) outside Dorchester. Take the B3150 from the city centre.
 
Google Map - Stinsford Village