DID you know that Thomas Hardy, Dorset's writer of novels and poems, was a frequent visitor to Athelhampton House near Dorchester during his life?

When then owner Alfred Cart de Lafontaine was restoring the house and creating the Victorian gardens we see today Hardy would often visit.

He was much enamoured by the series of formal, Renaissance-style walled garden courts or ‘outdoor rooms’ with terraces, fountains, ponds and pavilions

Hardy and Lafontaine shared a passion for architecture and buildings and were both magistrates in Dorchester together.

The writer of Dorchester-set The Mayor of Casterbridge used Athelhampton as the basis for many of his poems and it influenced the details of many locations in his other novels.