Thomas Hardy was born in this small thatched cottage in 1840.
The secluded cottage was built by Hardy's great-grandfather in 1800 and has been little altered externally. The walls were constructed from cob and these have been given weather protection by brick facing or rendered cement. Casement windows peer out from the overhanging thatched roof and roses, honeysuckle and japonica climb the walls.
The old-fashioned garden is crowded with lavender, lupins, lilies, marigolds and other traditional plants, just as Hardy knew it.
The cottage stands at the top of the hill off Cuckoo Lane in Higher Bockhampton and behind it stretches Egdon Heath, which Hardy wrote of in 'The Return of the Native'.
Hardy's father was a master builder and he paid his employees through the barred window that opens on to the heath. His grandfather was a known smuggler of brandy and the peep-hole in the porch was supposedly for watching for excise men.
Hardy grew up in the cottage, walking to the village school in Lower Bockhampton and then to the three miles to Dorchester.
He continued to live there whilst a pupil in the office of John Hicks, the Dorchester architect. When he was 22 years old Hardy left Dorset to try his luck in London. He returned five years later to practice locally.
His writing was done in the little room upstairs at the window seat looking west towards Black Down. Here he wrote 'Under the Greenwood Tree' in which the cottage is described in detail.
With the success of 'Far From the Madding Crowd', published in 1874, Hardy devoted himself entirely to writing. This was also the year he married Emma Gifford and left the cottage for Yarmouth.
His marriage to Emma was troubled and a time of great unhappiness for Hardy but it inspired some of his most moving poems.
Hardy continued to visit the cottage both during and after his parents' lifetime. His last visit was in 1926.
In 1948 the cottage was given to the National Trust in accordance with the will of Miss K Hardy. A small collection of items connected with Hardy, including letters and memorials of his literary career, were given to the Trust in 1965.