This stunning film shows footage from the funeral of Dorset's greatest son.

Hundreds of mourners were present at Thomas Hardy's funeral held at the tiny St Michael's Church in Stinsford near Dorchester in 1928.

Unusually, only Hardy's heart was buried in Dorset. His ashes were laid to rest in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.

This was a request made because, despite his level of fame, Hardy's heart was always in Dorset and he wished it to remain in his beloved 'Wessex'.

He wanted to be buried at Stinsford, where his parents lie. Stinsford was referred to as Mellstock in Hardy's novels.

Dorset Echo:

Hardy (left) with family and friends at a picnic on Black Heath, behind Hardy's Cottage

However, after Hardy's death, the authorities at Westminster Abbey suggested he be buried in 'Poets' Corner'. Faced with this dilemma, his second wife, Florence decided that Hardy's heart should be buried at Stinsford and that his ashes be interred in the Abbey.

Dorset Echo:

St Andrew's Church, Stinsford

There is also a macabre twist to the story for, when the local doctor was removing Hardy's heart, he left the room momentarily and re-entered to find his cat eating it. As a result, the cat was killed and its body was placed into the grave too.

In the film footage in this British Pathe video you can see an opening shot of St Michael's Church followed by the vicar carrying the heart in a casket and dozens of mourners lining the path. The camera then pans across the crowd of mourners.

Rudyard Kipling was a pallbearer at the funeral.

Dorset Echo:

Memorial window to Hardy in St Michael's Church, Stinsford

If you visit Hardy's grave in Stinsford, nearby you can also see the grave of Cecil Day-Lewis, former poet laureate and father of Oscar winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis.