Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Dickens, Hardy & London

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Wessex a Bustling Little Town

Mitch Palmer '09 - Today we visited Dorchester in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. Since it is located in the British countryside, I assumed at first that it would be pretty much like the cornfields and whatnot we see in Indiana. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

For one, the town was much more active than I originally imagined it would be. On one street in particular, which was closed off in order to accommodate pedestrian traffic, it was as crowded as some of the places we have seen in London. The rest of the town was fraught with stores, pubs, inns, and street vendors, and in some places one might forget that London was 2 ½ hours away.

Once we started to pass out of the town and move more into the country, however, I was reminded a little more of home. On the other hand, there were some significant differences between what I’m used to in the States and what I saw here. Most noticeable (and most disappointing) was the lack of road apples. But we did see several kinds of ranches and farms that one would expect to find in the States. One major difference was the heavy presence of forest area among the farms; there was not nearly as much open field as we have in the states.

Finally, before leaving, we saw Thomas Hardy’s cottage. One of the first things I noticed was the height of the door – probably about 5’ 8” or so; Hardy was not a large man. But the gardens surrounding the cottage, as well as the autumn forestry made for an extremely beautiful, extremely serene scene. After seeing the cottage, we were on our way back to the train station, and upon settling myself on the train, I began my second 2 ½ hour nap of the day.