Karen Chessell posted this on the Hounsell message boards at rootsweb


This newspaper cutting (of unknown origin) was passed on to me by Chris Hounsell of Essex: -

Passing of the man who put Hardy's heart in Stinsford grave.

Leonard Hounsell was a craftsman, a monumental mason who worked in his stoneyard at Springfield-road, Weymouth, a business started by his grandfather in 1859. And to that yard came letters from Thomas Hardy, in which were sketches and plans for the tombstones which Hardy wanted over the graves of those he loved - and over his own grave. No one knows now why Hardy, a man who all his life was intrigued by the art and inherited talents of all craftsmen, first wrote to Leonard Hounsell. The letters and plans are now at an American university. Tombstones were not the only work wrought for Hardy by Craftsmen Hounsell. In 1908 Hardy designed steps at his Max Gate, Dorchester home, and it was to Walter Hounsell that he entrusted that work. The writer and the craftsman met. The Max Gate steps were made at Broadwey, Weymouth. Hardy's heart was buried at Stinsford, and the man who placed the casket at the bottom of the grave was Leonard Hounsell. This week the old craftsman, who remembered the traditions of his grandfather, who worked in his father's stoneyard as boy, died at the age of 75. Through World War I he had been a sergeant in the Royal Artillery, and in the years which followed he and his father, Walter, carved many war memorials. Hounsell work can be seen in war memorials at St. Paul's and Holy Trinity, Weymouth, at Piddlehinton and in other towns and villages. When Leonard Hounsell ceased work in 1952 the Broadwey stone business was taken over by a bigger company. Leonard's two sons, Walter and Harry, work for that company. The Hounsells are still stone masons. But the old yard and workshops in which four generations of craftsmen worked, and of which Hardy must have heard good report, has gone. On the site stands a modern house. In that house lives one of the sons of Leonard Hounsell. In the quiet church at Stinsford, over the heart of Hardy, there stands a stone which will last for many years, the enduring work of Leonard Hounsell, who followed the craft of his father, Walter, and his grandfather, Thomas

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I visited Walter Hounsell (junior) in 1993. He had retired from working as a stone-mason and had taken up wood carving instead. Walter Hounsell (senior) was the son of Thomas Hounsell and his second wife Sarah Roper. He married Clara Louisa Winzar 1881 at Broadway. Thomas Hounsell's first wife was Sarah Amor and they had nine children. Sons George, Frederick, Thomas and Arthur were also stonemasons. However, there was very little communication between Thomas's first and second families. Chris Hounsell and I descend from the 'first' family, Walter (junior) from the 'second'. It was Chris who pieced together the history of the two families, and who first went to meet Walter.


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Click here for a site with pictures of the grave at St. Michael, Stinsford