THE CELEBRATED collection of Thomas Hardy archives at the Dorset County Museum has been recognised for its national and international significance.

The Thomas Hardy archive and collection at the Dorchester museum has been selected to the United Kingdom register of documentary heritage for the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.

The register aims to promote the nation’s documentary heritage across the UK and the world by recognising significant collections that meet strict criteria.

David Dawson, who is chair of the UK Memory of the World committee and director of Wiltshire Heritage Museum, paid a visit to the county town to personally view the collection and hand over a certificate.

He said the significance of Hardy’s works and the picture he was able to capture of his time meant the archive was deserving of its place on the register.

Mr Dawson said: “It really is that picture of the 19th Century and the way that life changed and the way Thomas Hardy captured that talking primarily about Dorset but also capturing the spirit of change coming across the country and he had such an impact on literary works both nationally and internationally.

“It is for that reason it was such a privilege to be able to inscribe these archives on the national register.”

The UK register now has over 40 items with the latest wave of additions including the Domesday Book as well as the Hardy archives, while the international register includes items like the Magna Carta.

Director of the Dorset County Museum Dr Jon Murden said he was ‘proud’ to see the Hardy collection take its place on the register. He said: “It’s a tremendous accolade showing the wealth of resources we have got and the internationally recognised status of the collection shows its significance both in terms of Dorset but also the changing world that Hardy captures when he was writing.

“I’m very proud and the sort of company we are keeping with the Domesday Book and the Magna Carta giving you an idea of the level to which this collection has significance.”

Honorary curator of the archive Helen Gibson said she hoped the accolade would help with funding bids to support ongoing projects like the cataloguing work that had already begun.

She added: “We are very lucky because of it all coming so directly from Hardy’s house at Max Gate.

“It’s a very special exhibition.”