The Former Door

Flowers on windowsill

A few of you have asked how I came by the name of @theformerdoor for my Instagram account. The answer is steeped in the lore of Thomas Hardy, the legendary author and poet (and architect) who wrote so captivatingly about Dorset.

If you’ve visited Hardy’s lovely cob and thatch cottage in Higher Bockhampton near Dorchester you might recall seeing the tiny window in the picture with this post. The window is at the bottom of the stairs.

Well, Thomas Hardy also wrote an evocative poem ‘The Self-Unseeing’ about the cottage where he grew up. In the main downstairs living area there’s a window with a deep sill. On the floor below the window the flagstones are worn away as this opening used to be a doorway. This little piece of history is captured in his poem:

The Self-Unseeing by Thomas Hardy

Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.

She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away

I love this tiny fragment of history. Managing building projects on period properties and helping them to evolve allows me to make discoveries – old coins, newspapers and the shapes of former doors and windows.