Rites of Way with Mr Hardy

Welcome to a new project by ScreenPLAY in partnership with the Thomas Hardy Society to explore the woods around Thomas Hardy’s birthplace in a new way.
It will culminate in the production of a smartphone app guiding visitors through the ancient woodland, learning about tree folklore and telling Hardy’s stories set in these woodlands.

A pilot we made for Kingcombe nature reserve gives you an idea of the sort of app we are making. You can explore the Drovers route here. Click and play to listen to the trail, spin the wheel of trees and click a leaf icon to hear the folklore of each tree.

We’d love to hear from you

Tell us your stories Thorncombe Woods and Hardy’s birthplace. Login here using your Facebook login or email using the link at the top of the page.

Art, health and lockdown

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“When you have an illness that is going to affect your life, it makes you appreciate the beauty around us…”
Artist Maggie Curtis talks to ScreenPLAY’s Sharon Hayden about her art, her health and living in lockdown in rural Dorset.
: We meet Countryside Ranger Claire Platten
Artist Maggie Curtis with Sharon Hayden at Thorncombe Woods
Tools of the trade
Dragon fly with greens and reds
Central dragonfly
At Rushy Pond

The Hazel coppice

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Woodman Alan Brown, pictured here at Thorncombe Woods in 2006 was the sixth generation of his family to make wattle hurdles out of split rods from a hazel coppice. The family tradition now continues with his son Steve. In this podcast, ScreenPLAY’s Alastair Nisbet discusses the ancient craft whose roots go back to the days of the flint axe. Click the audio to play and the images below to enlarge.
Next: “When you have an illness that’s going to affect your life it makes you appreciate the beauty around you…” artist Maggie Curtis.
Tools of the trade: billhooks
Hurdle maker Alan Brown at work in 2006
Weaving the split rods in and out of the sails
another piece of split rod
beat it down firmly
another hurdle done

Why green is good

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Dramatherapist and ScreenPLAY artist Sharon Hayden discusses why green spaces make us feel relaxed, help us reduce our stress and anxiety and generally make us feel better about ourselves. Click the audio to play and the images below to enlarge.
Sharon Hayden: your woodland guide
The Roman Road
June: every shade of green in the wood
Sit by the pond in June and watch the grass snakes in the water
A twisted tangle of vines
Be still for a while and some friends may pass by

Every Shade of Green

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Come for a walk in the woods of Thomas Hardy’s youth with artist and dramatherapist Sharon Hayden. It’s an opportunity to reflect, relax and enjoy the green space. Over the coming weeks, Sharon and colleague Alastair Nisbet will take you on a series of walks through the ancient woodland of Thorncombe Woods with extracts from Hardy’s writing as well as Ian Siddons Heginworth’s book, Environmental Arts Therapy.
In this episode Sharon and Alastair spot grass snakes in Rushy Pond and Mr Hardy - voiced by actor Rod Drew - reads Weathers while a blackbird looks on. Hardy once said he would come back as a blackbird - perhaps it was him.
Green spaces: helping reduce stress
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