Thomas Hardy

Writer and Poet

On 16th 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 inscription on his memorial in the churchyard there reads "Here lies the heart of Thomas Hardy O.M. son of Thomas and Jemima Hardy. He was born at Upper Bockhampton 2 June 1840 and died at Max Gate Dorchester 11 January 1928. His ashes rest in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey".

The chief mourners were his widow Florence, 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

The original inscription had become worn so a new stone and incised inscription was put down in 2019.

Thomas was born on 2nd June 1840 at Higher Bockhampton 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 (died 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 11th January 1928.

An annual wreath laying takes place at his grave. A commemoration service was held in the Abbey on 4th July 1968 and on 10th August 1978.

Further reading

Order of Service for the Funeral of Thomas Hardy 1928 (PDF, 440 KB)

The Thomas Hardy Society

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The cottage where he was born near Dorchester and his house Max Gate are in the care of The National Trust and can be visited.

Visit The Prayer Book Society for text of 1662 Prayer Book burial service


16th January 1928


Writer; poet


South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type


Black and white photo of Thomas Hardy, each of end of his moustache curled
Thomas Hardy

Bain News Service, publisher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

White gravestone of Thomas Hardy reading: 'THOMAS HARDY O.M. 1840 1928'
Thomas Hardy's new stone

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster