It’s 100 years since Lawrence of Arabia first arrived in Jordan and the centenary of the Great Arab Revolt. A good time to walk the TE Lawrence trail in Dorset and visit his home, near Wareham
Lawrence moved into Clouds Hill, a former Forestry Commission property, when posted to the tank corps at nearby Bovington in 1923. After his death in 1935, the two-up, two-down cottage was given to the National Trust.
Lawrence was a pragmatic man. A Greek classicist, he translated Homer’s Odyssey to pay for the cottage. And he sold his dagger (now on display at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford) to raise £200 to replace the rotting upper floor.
He used explosives to remove an overhanging tree and filled in windows to save heat. The tiny window in the guest room is a porthole. “He was a great recycler,” says Peter Preen, the cottage curator.
Lawrence’s desire to live for the present is evident in the lack of ornamentation in the cottage, and there is little trace of his years in the Middle East during the first world war.
It was a retreat. His alias became TE Shaw: George Bernard Shaw inscribed one book “To Private Shaw from Public Shaw”.
His luxuries were music and reading. The music room upstairs still contains the gramophone that entertained guests including Hardy and Forster, but the records and books from the downstairs library were given to the Ashmolean on his death.