The Birthday Weekend

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Date & time

From June 7, 2014 at 10:00 to June 8, 2014 at 12:00


Various Venues 

Saturday 7th June


Walk : Tony Fincham will lead a Far from the Madding Crowd walk starting from St Mary’s Church, Puddletown (SY758944), visiting Warren’s Malthouse, Weatherbury Farm (Waterston Manor), Little Weatherbury Farm (Druce Farm).
Distance: 5.5 miles.

3.30 pm.

The Birthday Lecture
Council Chamber, County Hall .
‘Objects of the Inner Eye’ by Dr Rebecca Welshman.

Personal archaeology and emotions in the work of Thomas Hardy

The first half of the lecture traces the early gestation of Hardy’s interests in prehistory during his time in London in the 1860s and considers topographical connections between Casterbridge and the megalithic site at Carnac in Brittany. Hardy’s descriptions seem to suggest his familiarity with the work of Thomas Roger Smith – his former London employer and fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The lecture traces the origins of a Bronze Age necklace — a rare form of lunette associated with moon-worship — which was unearthed in Cornwall in 1860 at St. Juliot, and presents evidence of its enduring symbolic meaning in The Mayor of Casterbridge and in Hardy’s poetry.

The second half of the lecture focuses on Poems 1912–1913. In ways that novel writing was unable to, poetry allowed Hardy to engage in a form of personal archaeology. Poems 1912–13 explores ways in which the enduring qualities of the natural environment — stone, slate, hills, valleys, streams — evoke memories of earlier ‘prime’ moments. The presence of manmade objects in rural landscapes, and in the garden at Max Gate, become symbolic points of entry into a newfound spiritual space, shaped by memory and the emotional recall of the poet’s past.

Tickets: £6 (members £5)


Tea in the Members Room at County Hall


Hardy’s Statue: A selection of Hardy readings followed by a wreath-laying ceremony led by the Mayor of Dorchester and Dr Rebecca Welshman; thence to St Peter’s where a wreath will be laid at William Barnes’ statue.


Buffet supper at Dorset County Museum (catering by Panini’s Dorchester)
Tickets £10 (members £8)

7.00pm for 7.30pm

Victorian Gallery, DCM
The Dorchester Bards – an entertainment in prose, poetry and music selected and performed by Alistair Chisholm (the Town Crier), Julian Nangle (antiquarian book collector) and Jerry Bird (folk musician)
Tickets: £5.00

Sunday 8th


St Michael’s Church, Stinsford: Morning Service, followed by wreath-laying at Hardy’s grave.
We are delighted to announce that our Guest Preacher will be Canon Vernon White from Westminster Abbey.