Clouds Hill // Wareham

Clouds Hill
Photo: © LordHarris / CC BY-SA 3.0
Music Room at Clouds Hill
Photo: © Ydigresse / CC BY-SA 3.0

Isolated cottage that was the home to T. E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia'). It was donated to the National Trust after Lawrence's death and is now a museum, dedicated to Lawrence.

One of Dorset's most illustrious former inhabitants is the archaeologist, soldier and writer, T.E.Lawrence, dubbed 'Lawrence of Arabia' for his part in leading the Bedouin tribes in a successful revolt against their Turkish oppressors during the second world war.

In 1923, shortly after joining the Tanks Corps at Bovington Camp, Lawrence fell in love with a tiny, isolated brick and tile cottage buckling under rotten thatch and rhododendrons in the heart of rural Dorset, between Wareham and Dorchester. Lawrence rented the cottage for half a crown and turned it into a sanctuary where he could go and recover from life in the barracks and escape the publicity that dogged him after the publication of his bestselling book 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom'.

Lawrence built a bedroom and library on the ground floor and a writing and music room upstairs. There was no toilet. Guests, who included George Bernard Shaw and E.M.Forster, had to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. In 1965, the same year as a film documenting the life of T.E.Lawrence called 'Lawrence of Arabia' was released, the sleeping bag was stolen. It mysteriously appeared on the doorstep of Clouds Hill thirty six years later in a parcel that had been posted from Belgium.

Lawrence bought Clouds Hill in 1925 and retired there permanently ten years later, hoping for a 'life of Sundays'. Tragically he died shortly afterwards in a tragic motorbike accident when he swerved to avoid two boys on bicycles and hit a tree.

Clouds Hill is located on the edge of the Moreton Estate, which was owned by Lawrence's cousins, the Frampton family. The cottage and it's furnishings, which are just as Lawrence left them, now belong to the National Trust and can be visited by the general public between March to October.

A three-mile circular walk organised by Purbeck Council leaves Clouds Hill and heads for a hilltop picnic spot. There are numerous other tributes and mementoes dedicated to T.E.Lawrence in the area as well as a whole room devoted to his life and times in the Wareham museum.