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Sturminster in 1896

In ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, Hardy describes Sturminster as “the little town of Stourcastle, dumbly somnolent under its thick brown thatch” – an impression that seems confirmed by this photograph of the town taken from the ‘Abbot’s Illustrated Counties’ volume for Dorset: ‘Dorsetshire, its history, antiquities, places of interest, etc... a complete concise and exhaustive story of Dorset from the earliest times to the present day...’

As its publisher boasts, the volume is “profusely illustrated with one hundred and twenty-five specially prepared photographic process views”.  Photography was still something of a novelty – and a selling point - in printed books during the second half of the 19th century.  New developments in photographic printing processes were to revolutionise the appearance of travel guides.

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