Stinsford was remembered with great affection by Thomas Hardy as it was here that his grandfather founded a small musical group who accompanied services from the church’s gallery.  Hardy’s father played with the group as did the young Thomas, who played violin. Stinsford is the Mellstock in Thomas Hardy’s novel, 'Under the Greenwood Tree'. 

The church of St Michael is small and homely, ranging in date from the 13th to the 17th century, with a 14th century tower. Several Victorian restorations. A late Saxon carving of St Michael with outstretched wings is re-set on the outside of tower, probably during the restoration work. The wooden gallery where the musicians and singers of the village choir or band sat has been removed. Hardy’s plan of the gallery is on display.

The story of William and Susanna O'Brien, whose memorial is is located in the church delighted Thomas Hardy who used it as the basis of several stories.  Susanna was the daughter of the Earl of Ilchester and destined to play a role in English society, but she fell in love and married William O'Brien, an actor.  The marriage so enraged her father, the Earl that he threatened to disinherit her. William agreed to leave the stage to avoid the loss, the pair having a happy marriage with the grudging blessing of the Earl.

Thomas Hardy's parents, sister and first wife, Emma,  were buried in the churchyard, and it was Hardy's wish to be buried with them. But as a great man of letters, Hardy’s ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poet's Corner. However as a compromise his heart was removed before cremation and now lies beside his wife. Hardy's second wife, Florence, also lies in the churchyard, as does the poet Cecil Day Lewis.

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