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 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
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 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 11th January 1928.
Order of Service for the Funeral of Thomas Hardy 1928 (PDF, 440 KB)
The cottage where he was born near Dorchester is 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