Category: Art & Culture Dates: Tuesday, 15 April 2014 to Monday, 01 December 2014 Hardy’s Dorset springs to life in the pages of novels like Far From The Madding Crowd or Tess of the D’Urbervilles and in so much of his verse. Generations of readers have grown to accept the Valley of the Great Dairies, the fairground at Weydon Priors or the esplanade at Budmouth as authentic localities. A tour of the Hardy country reveals just how little its features have altered in the years since he walked its lanes and woodland tracks. The initial focus is on Dorchester, a county town whose history sends echoes spinning through the narrative of The Mayor of Casterbridge. Small Tudor and Jacobean manor houses are also visited, together with market towns like Blandford and Sherborne, the Georgian seaside watering-place of Weymouth and the ancient rope-working and net-making town of Bridport, Hardy’s ‘Port Bredy’. The tour is led by author and journalist, Jonathan Keates, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.