According to wikipedia, Thomas Hardy and his wife stayed with Pitt-Rivers at Rushmore in early September 1895. The annual sports day was held at the Larmer Tree Gardens on 4 September, followed by a dance that evening. This event may have been associated with the Art Exhibition which Pitt-Rivers was holding in the Larmer Gardens in September 1895. Thomas Hardy led the country dancing, partnering Agnes, Pitt-Rivers' youngest daughter, the wife of Walter Grove. After Agnes' death in 1926 Hardy wrote a poem, Concerning Agnes, about the night they met, which begins:

I am stopped from hoping what I have hoped before -Yes many a time! -
To dance with that fair woman yet once more
As in the prime
Of August, when the wide-faced moon looked through
The boughs at the faery lamps of the Larmer Avenue
I could not, though I should wish, have over again
That old romance,
And sit apart in the shade as we sat then
After the dance
The while I held her hand, and, to the booms
Of contrabassos, feet still pulsed from the distant rooms.

According to her Dictionary of National Biography entry, Agnes wrote to Thomas Hardy from 1895 to 1901, the entry says, "during which time they formed a pupil–mentor relationship; she engaged him to help her select topics for periodical publications and get her works published, as she seems to have sought a broader audience for her social and political essays. In 1896, for example, he suggested that she address how children are educated; an essay, ‘What should children be told?’, appeared in two parts in the Free Review, for July–August 1896. In surviving letters Hardy admires the ‘vigour’ of her prose and the power of her persuasive pieces, referring to her affectionately as his ‘good little pupil’."

According to another website, Hardy declared on arriving at the garden, "This is the prettiest sight I ever saw in my life". The garden is now designated a 'Garden of National Importance' by English Heritage according to this site.

Bibliography for this article

Agnes' DNB entry

Michael Millgate, 2006 Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisted OUP, 336-7

AP, June 2011.

To find out more about Agnes, see here.

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