STAFF and volunteers at the former home of Thomas Hardy are celebrating after receiving glowing feedback from visitors.

Max Gate has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from travel review website TripAdvisor for consistently outstanding feedback.

The home, which was designed by the great author himself in 1885, is opened up by the National Trust during the summer months and word is clearly spreading about the visitor experience on offer.

The National Trust’s visitor services manager for Hardy Country and Clouds Hill, Martin Stephen, said the award from TripAdvisor was another feather in the cap for all involved at Max Gate.

He said that they consistently get good reviews from surveys visitors are able to fill in and, although the TripAdvisor feedback probably captured a different section of the visiting public, the feedback was similarly positive.

Mr Stephen said: “We are feeling really chuffed – it’s great.

“We do our own surveys of visitors and we have been getting some feedback and that has seen similar comments about the warmth and friendliness of the welcome. It’s great to have that confirmation and we are delighted to get that award.”

Mr Stephen thanked all those visitors that had been using the TripAdvisor website to share their positive experiences of Max Gate and said it helped others find out about the property.

He said: “It’s wonderful to have that feedback on TripAdvisor, which extends to a different type of visitor from those who fill in the surveys. It helps spread the word, which is great.”

Mr Stephen said that the season had started excellently at Max Gate, with visitor numbers increasing on previous years and the National Trust was delighted to see it thriving.

He said: “It’s been very good.

“We have had far more visitors than we had last year and we are beating our budget, which is fantastic.”

Max Gate is where Hardy penned some of his most famous works including Tess of the d’Ubervilles and Jude the Oscure.

Visitors can see the study where he worked, admire the architecture of the house Hardy designed, explore the newly restored kitchen garden and even see the pet cemetery where Hardy’s dog Wessex is buried.

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