17 May 2022

A southwest legal firm with a 300-year-old history in the West Country is to sponsor the forthcoming Thomas Hardy exhibition, Hardy’s Wessex.

Battens Solicitors, which has six offices in Somerset and Dorset, was founded at Church House in Church Street, Yeovil, in the 18th century, before moving to its current headquarters in Princes Street.

The branch would have been open in 1876 when Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma lived in lodgings at 7 St Peter Street, Yeovil. The couple stayed there from March to July, during which time Hardy corrected the final proofs of his novel, The Hand of Ethelberta.

Battens’ sponsorship has helped Wessex Museums create this major exhibition – the largest collection of Hardy objects ever displayed at one time. Harriet Still, the exhibition curator, said:

“We are hugely grateful to Battens for their sponsorship of the exhibition. It is especially fitting that our sponsor is so rooted in Wessex where Hardy found his inspiration.”

Managing Director of Battens Solicitors, Ceri Stephens, said, “Battens has a long history of supporting the Arts both as a company and also through its charitable trust. We are delighted to be able to sponsor this event which celebrates both Hardy’s talent as a writer and the wonderful Wessex countryside and community in which he lived and worked.”

Hardy’s Wessex, which opens on 28 May, spans the four Wessex Museums partners – Dorset Museum, Poole Museum, Wiltshire Museum and The Salisbury Museum. Each museum explores a different Hardy theme.

Find out more on the Wessex Museums website