Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Virtual Tour


"This fertile and sheltered tract of country, in which the fields are never brown and the springs never dry, is bounded on the south by the bold chalk ridge that embraces the prominences of Hambledon Hill, Bulbarrow, Nettlecombe-Tout, Dogbury, High Stoy, and Bubb Down. The traveller from the coast, who, after plodding northward for a score of miles over calcareous downs and corn-lands, suddenly reaches the verge of one of these escarpments, is surprised and delighted to behold, extended like a map beneath him, a country differing absolutely from that which he has passed through." (Norton Critical Edition, "The Maiden," II, 9)

Vale of Blackmoor from Bulbarrow

"Here, in the valley, the world seems to be constructed upon a smaller and more delicate scale; the fields are mere paddocks, so reduced that from this height their hedgerows appear a network of dark green threads overspreading the paler green of the grass." ("The Maiden," II, 9)

Vale of Blackmoor (The Valley of the Small Dairies), the home of Tess Durbeyfield

"The atmosphere . . . is languorous and so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes also of that hue, while the horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine. Arable lands are few and limited; with but slight exceptions the prospect is a broad rich mass of grass and trees, mantling the minor hills and dales within the major. Such is the Vale of Blackmoor." ("The Maiden," II, 9)

Vale of Blackmoor from Shaston (Shaftsbury)

"The district if of historic, no less than of topographical interest. The Vale was known in former times as the Forest of the White Hart, from a curious legend of King Henry III's reign, in which the killing by a certain Thomas de la Lynd of a beautiful white hart which the king had run down and spared, was made the occasion of a heavy fine. In those days, and till comparatively recent times, the country was densely wooded. Even now, traces of its earlier condition are to be found in the old oak copses and irregular belts of timber that survive upon its slopes, and the hollow-trunked trees that shade so many of its pastures." ("The Maiden," II, 10)

Rolliver's Inn

"Rolliver's inn, the single alehouse at this end of the long and broken village, could only boast of an off-license; hence, as nobody could legally drink on the premises, the amount of overt accommodation for consumers was strictly limited to a little board about six inches wide and two yards long, fixed to the garden palings by pieces of wire, so as to form a ledge. . . . In a large bedroom upstairs, the window of which was thickly curtained with a great woolen shawl lately discarded by the landlady Mrs. Rolliver, were gathered on this evening nearly a dozen persons, all seeking beatitude; all old inhabitants of the nearer end of Marlott, and frequenters of this retreat." ("The Maiden," IV, 20)

The Pure Drop Inn

"Not only did the distance to The Pure Drop, the fully licensed tavern at the further end of the dispersed village, render its accommodation practically unavailable for dwellers at this end; but the far more serious question, the quality of the liquor, confirmed the prevalent opinion that it was better to drink with Rolliver in a corner of the housetop than with the other landlord in a wide house." ("The Maiden," IV, 10)

The Village of Marlott (Marnhull)

"The village of Marlott lay amid the north-eastern undulations of the beautiful Vale of Blackmore or Blackmoor aforesaid, and engirdled and secluded region, for the most part untrodden yet by tourist or landscape-painter, though within a four hours journey from London." ("The Maiden," II, 9)

Site of the May Day dance where Angel Clare first sees Tess

"The young girls formed, indeed, the majority of the band, and their heads of luxuriant hair reflected in the sunshine every tone of gold, and black, and brown. Some had beautiful eyes, others a beautiful nose, others a beautiful mouth and figure: few, if any, had all. . . . And as each and all of them were warmed without by the sun, so each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in; some dream, some affecton, some hobby, at least some remote and distant hope which, though perhaps starving to nothing, still lived on, as hopes will. Thus they were all cheerful, and many of them merry." ("The Maiden," II, 11)

Tess's Cottage

According to one local legend, Thomas Hardy himself identified this cottage as the one where he put his "Tessie."

Tess's Room

The modern owners identified this as the room that would have been Tess's.

The Thatch on Tess's Cottage (the work of a master thatcher)

Shaston (the ancient hill-town of Shaftesbury)

"She had seen daily from her chamber-window towers, villages, faint white mansions; above all the town of Shaston standing majestically on its height; its windows shining like lamps in the evening sun ("The Maiden," V, 30)

Principal sources:

Herman Lea, Thomas Hardy's Wessex, (3rd Edition, Toucan Press, 1969)

F. B. Pinion, A Hardy Companion, (Macmillan & St. Martin's Press, 1968)

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