THE DORCHESTER home of author Thomas Hardy will be boasting a new look this year thanks to a generous donation of antique furniture.

Max Gate, the home that Hardy built and where he penned a number of works including Tess of the d’Urbervilles, is now fully furnished thanks to a donation of period items from Shell UK.

The house, which is open to the public throughout the summer, previously only had sparse furnishing and owners, the National Trust, have welcomed the new arrivals.

National Trust curator James Grasby said: “We are fortunate to have photographs of the house when Hardy was here so we have used that evidence to recreate the rooms in the same mood as during Hardy’s occupation and of his married life here.

“Visitors are already saying that it is like stepping into somebody’s house, which is what we are aiming to achieve.”

The donations from Shell UK include bookcases, a selection of chairs, several writing desks, lamps and ceramics.

Mr Grasby said: “When I went to see what was on offer I found a mixture of styles, a Victorian dining table, a Regency sidetable and other Georgian and Edwardian pieces and all good quality.

“But of course, Hardy didn’t buy all new furniture, he furnished his home with a mixture of items, much as most people do today.

“This is good robust furniture which helps us to tell the story of what Max Gate was like when great works of literature were created here.”

To add to the items donated by Shell, the National Trust has also acquired other items and purchased textiles, pictures and some silver plates to boost the look of Max Gate, which was fully opened to the public for the first time last year.

Mr Grasby added: “One of our volunteers, Jennifer Young made case covers for the furniture from some lovely fabric of the right period which was reclaimed from some old curtains.”

For more information about Max Gate visit