Video preview of this year’s production

The New Hardy Players have been having some fun up on Hardy’s Egdon Heath, behind his birthplace at Higher Bockhampton, creating a “video poster” – i.e. some short video clips to give you an idea of what it’s going to be like. There’s a short and a long version below:

Shorter version:-

 Longer version:-

 Further details about this years main production, Howard Payton’s new adaptation of ‘The Return Of The Native‘, can be found here.

Max Gate Sold Out

The two performances at Max Gate are now sold out, despite more places having been made available.

Why not come to the performance at one of our other venues:

Minterne House – North of Cerne Abbas

Lulworth Cove on the glorious Purbeck coast

Watercombe House – near Owermoigne.

Full booking details on our Current Productions page

Rehearsal Hardy Would Have Liked

Our rehearsal on 5 July was at Max Gate, and as we rehearsed in the grounds of Thomas Hardy’s house, in the sunshine, it all felt like it was coming together just as he would have wished.

We’ll share a few shots of the rehearsal with you below – do come and see the performance for yourself.

Rehearsal 5 July 759Rehearsal 5 July-800  Rehearsal 5 July -777 - Copy Rehearsal 5 July -784 - Copy Rehearsal 5 July -787 Rehearsal 5 July -797

Rehearsal 5 July-774

Rehearsal 5 July -828


Extra Tickets Now Available

We are very happy to announce that tickets are again available for all of this season’s open-air performances of The Return Of The Native around Hardy Country.

The popularity of Howard Payton’s new adaptation of The Return Of The Native, Thomas Hardy’s story of intrigue, hope and destiny on Egdon Heath, has meant that tickets have sold out even faster than usual, disappointing some fans.

To cater for this unexpected demand, we have agreed extra capacity with the venues involved, including Max Gate in Dorchester: the home Thomas Hardy designed and built for his family.

Our Chairman, Andy Worth, said: “Max Gate sells out every year, but I’m delighted that tickets have sold so well for our tenth anniversary production”.

See our Current Production page for details.

The New Hardy Players can also be seen this summer at the popular Tea With Mr Hardy events at Max Gate.

We’re in the Window!

The Dorchester Tourist Information Centre is helping us spread the word about our performances by letting us put a display in their window. We thought you might like to see what it looks like:

Picture of a display in a shop window

Special Programme This Year

The pace is really hotting up now – rehearsals are polishing the performance, the musicians are practicing like made, the publicity team is working hard and the programme is nearly ready to go off to the printers.

We’re doing a super 24-page Souvenir Programme this year, to celebrate ten years of the New Hardy Players performing Thomas Hardy’s works.

Collage of pages from the programme

Tickets are selling well, so get yours now. Full details on our Current Production page.

One night already sold out

We are delighted to see that our second performance of The Return of the Native at Max Gate is already sold out! We are limited to 150 seats here, and the first night has sold 100 tickets, so book quickly if you want to see the performance in the ground of the house where Thomas Hardy used to live.

The front of a brick-built house
Max Gate. Photo: National Trust

Full details of how to buy tickets here.

Tea with Mr Hardy

~ Mr and Mrs Thomas Hardy invite you to ~

**   Tea With Mr Hardy   **

At their home: Max Gate, Dorchester, on Thursday 18th June

  • Tea and very light refreshments will be served in the garden from 3.45pm
  • In the presence of Sir Frederick Treves, Sergeant-Surgeon to His Majesty, and author of ‘Highways and Byways of Dorset’
  • Scenes from ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ will be performed by the Hardy Players

Normal National Trust admission charges apply

After the proceedings conclude at 5pm, you may wish to make a voluntary contribution towards the defrayal of expenses.

Later in the season, there are further opportunities to take tea with Mr and Mrs Hardy at Max Gate:

Wednesday 15th July: when Dr Marie Stopes will be in attendance and the Hardy Players will present scenes from ‘Tess of the D’Urbevilles’

Thursday 13th August: Mr Siegfried Sassoon and Mrs Virginia Woolf are hoping to attend, and the Hardy Players will recite some favourite verse from Mr Hardy’s extensive oeuvre

Thursday 20th August: You are cordially invited to Tea and Country Dancing under the expert instruction of Mrs Laycock, and in the extrovert presence [straight from the West End] of the renowned tragedian Mrs Patrick Campbell.

If you wish to attend one or more of the Teas, kindly RSVP to The National Trust at Max Gate, indicating your intention.

01305 262538 or email

Please arrive by 3.45pm. Tea commences at 4pm. Carriages at 5pm.


The New Hardy Players Tenth Anniversary Season

Click here to see events at National Trusts’s Max Gate.

Click here to download poster as PDF.

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