A Review by Mark Chutter

Thomas Hardy Society Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Westminster Abbey

A Review by Mark Chutter

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The ashes of Thomas Hardy were buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey on 16th January 1928.Hardy died at Max Gate in Dorchester on 11 January of the aforementioned year. The chief mourners were his widow Florence, his sister, the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, Rudyard Kipling, Sir James Barrie, George Bernard Shaw and A.E.Housman.

The casket had lain in St Faith’s Chapel prior to the service . The grave was lined with purple and the Dean of Westminster sprinkled a handful of earth on the casket during the service (the earth from his beloved Stinsford). The simple inscription reads:

‘ THOMAS HARDY O.M.1840-1928’.


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The original stone had recently become worn so a new one with incised inscription was created in 2019. The original stone now rests in St Michael’s,Stinsford .

Saturday 15th January at 3pm this year marked our annual wreath laying service at Westminster Abbey .The Reverend David Stanton , Canon in Residence, gave us all a warm welcome . A wreath was then presented by Sue Clarke (kindly created by Shirley Churchill of Stinsford )and was beautifully adorned with yew and berries from Hardy’s Mellstock . An eclectic range of poems were recited from ‘ An August Midnight’ read by Stephanie Alder to ‘ A Poet’ read by Marilyn Leah , ‘ The Darkling Thrush’ recited by Mark Chutter and Andrew Leah finishing with ‘ Afterwards’. His heart in Wessex and his ashes in the abbey ,Hardy was a genius of a novelist and of course a poet( a rarity to be accomplished at both) and his name  placed appropriately In the annals of the literary establishment in Westminster. I would like to end on this apposite verse from ‘ Afterwards’ :

‘When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay ,

And the May month flaps its  glad green leaves like wings ,

Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,

‘“He was a man who used to notice such things “?

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Thank you for reading.

Mark Damon Chutter, THS Academic Director


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