On 16 January 1928 the ashes of the poet and writer Thomas Hardy were buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, immediately to the north of the grave of Charles Dickens. But his heart is buried at Stinsford in Dorset, where his parents lie. The chief mourners were his widow, his sister, the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, Rudyard Kipling, Sir James Barrie, George Bernard Shaw and A.E.Housman. The casket had lain in St Faith’s chapel before the service. The grave was lined with purple and the Dean of Westminster sprinkled a handful of Wessex earth on the casket during the service, which was according to the Book of Common Prayer. Wessex is a collective name for the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset where Hardy set many of his novels including The Return of the Native and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The simple inscription on the stone reads:
“THOMAS HARDY O.M. 1840 1928”
Thomas was born on 2 June 1840 at Higher Brockhampton in Dorset, son of Thomas, a stonemason, and Jemima. He was educated locally and apprenticed as an architect. He moved to London in 1862 and in 1874 he married Emma Gifford (d.1912). Far from the Madding Crowd was Hardy’s first major novel and made him famous. Many other novels, poems and short stories followed and he was awarded the Order of Merit. In 1914 he married Florence Dugdale and died on 11 January 1928.
A photograph of the stone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.
The cottage where he was born is in the care of The National Trust and can be visited.