IT'S far from the most read Thomas Hardy short story but The Three Strangers contains a bit of a mystery we can get our teeth into.

As we know Hardy set many of his plays and novels in the fictional Wessex and many of these locations are identifiable in modern-day Dorset.

However, the Higher Crowstairs location of The Three Strangers isn't so easy to pin down.

Dr Tony Fincham of the Thomas Hardy Society thought: "The consensus of current opinion follows the view of Fred Pitfield [that Higher Crowstairs was] on the Ridgeway on the boundaries of Charminster and Stinsford parishes; between Wolfedale Golf Course & Slyer’s Lane.”

Fred Pitfield is the author of Hardy’s Wessex Locations published in 1992. Tony suggested that “the most likely site for Shepherd Fennel's Cottage is at Fiddler’s Green, where a ruined cottage still stands.” He is the author of ‘Hardy’s Landscape Revisited’ published in 2010.

Wolfdale Eweleaze is at Charminster and Slyer’s Lane is the B3143 between Dorchester and Piddlehinton.

The Wrackleford Estate has suggested that the Estate Shooting Lodge (OS map ref: 652948) stands at the location of Higher Crowstairs. Thanks to Colin Jackson of Stratton for presenting us with this interesting conundrum and for letting us know that the best way of determining exactly where Higher Crowstairs was is to read the short story for ourselves!