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Thomas Hardy’s Home Of Dorchester Is Quite Possibly The Most Interesting Town In England… With A Prehistoric Secret

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Portrait photograph of Thomas Hardy
Portrait photograph of Thomas Hardy

By jove! Well I do declare! My good man may hath found the most interesting town in all of England! Located in the beautiful coastal county of Dorset, Dorchester is a gem of a place that has a host of hidden secrets just waiting to be discovered.

The town’s most famous past resident is Thomas Hardy, his stories and poems have entertained readers for over 140 years and his popularity is not diminishing with time.

The anticipatively awaited new movie adapted from his classic love novel Far From the Madding Crowd will be released in cinemas this week and should have people flocking to this rolling landscape in, well, madding crowds. The story surrounds a beautiful young woman who maintains relationships with three very different men.

Hardy grew up in Dorchester and based the fictional town of Casterbridge on it. His picturesque birthplace is known as Hardy’s Cottage and his house in town is called Max Gate, as a trained architect he was able to design this himself and he lived here from 1885 until his death in 1928. Both properties have now been acquired by National Trust and are open to the public.

Before gaining its literary connections Dorchester’s roots stem back to prehistoric times. Overlooking the town sits Maiden Castle, one of the best preserved Iron Age hill forts in Europe.

Recent excavations have uncovered the remains of nearly 40 Iron Age warriors, buried with food and drink for their journey into the afterlife. The site was home to hundreds of people in the Iron Age (800BC to 43AD).

Profile view of Maiden Castle's ramparts
Maiden Castle is situated on the edge of Dorchester.

When the Roman Empire invaded and defeated the local tribes they turned the area from a garrison into the settlement Durnovaria and so the town was created. Remnants of their occupation still exist in the form of the Roman amphitheatre at Maumbury Rings and the mosaic-floored Roman town house.

From human history to natural history – Dorchester provides the perfect base from which to explore the stunning Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site which is famous for being one of the best places to find fossilised sea creatures including gigantic marine reptiles!

A recent find was a massive pliosaur skull now exhibited at the museum in Dorchester, it is one of the largest and best preserved examples of a pliosaur skull ever found in the world and this animal had the strongest bite of any creature in all time. The jaw is a staggering 8.5 feet long and belonged to an animal 60 feet in length that existed 150 million years ago – it has been called the World’s Biggest Bite!

Pliosaur skull
The Weymouth Bay Pliosaur skull displayed in the Dorset County Museum

For thrill seekers looking to get a close up of the Dorset coastline, you can experience coasteering and challenge yourself to jump off some of the spectacular sea cliffs around Dorset.

Today, with its elegant 18th century houses, broad Walks and bustling shopping streets, the friendly market town of Dorchester has much to offer. With the recent development of Brewery Square, a vibrant new quarter has been created in the heart of the historic county town and transformed the area as a premier shopping and leisure destination.

Brewery Square fountains at night.
Brewery Square fountains at night.

What more could you want from an English market town? We’ll just settle for soaking up as much as possible from this fabulous place, thank you very much. This town is just too lovely to pass by!

The Corn Exchange Dorchester.
The Corn Exchange Dorchester.

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