Country houses for sale

A house for sale where Thomas Hardy broke his love rival’s heart

This lovely old vicarage in Cornwall has a quite incredible back story.

Before Thomas Hardy married Emma Gifford, her beau was a curate’s son who lived on the edge of the village of St Clether. And a moment of exquisite pain suffered by that curate’s son was captured for posterity by one of England’s greatest-ever writers.

In his 1871 poem The Face at the Casement, Hardy describes the moment he ran away with the local maiden – with her former flame gazing out of the window as the lovers departed.

Slowly we drove away,
When I turned my head, although not
Called to: why I turned I know not
Even to this day:

And lo, there in my view
Pressed against an upper lattice
Was a white face, gazing at us
As we withdrew…

Then I deigned a deed of hell;
It was done before I knew it;
What devil made me do it
I cannot tell!

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These spine-tingling verses refer to the house on this very page, a splendid Georgian four-bedroom home called The Old Vicarage, which is on the market with Keller Williams at £725,000.

Significantly remodelled and redecorated since Hardy’s time – as you’d hope, of course – it’s far more than just a lovely family home.

The Old Vicarage comes with five acres of land, a separate barn conversion, a wooded copse, a stream and a glamping business.