Clouds Hill

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For the estate in Warwick, Rhode Island, see Clouds Hill (Warwick, Rhode Island).
The front of Clouds Hill

Clouds Hill is an isolated cottage near Wareham in the county of Dorset in South West England. It is the former home of T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") and is now run as a writer's home museum by the National Trust. The site is in the parish of Turners Puddle in Purbeck District.

History[edit]

The rear of the cottage
The engraving of οὐ φροντὶς over doorway

The small building has colourwashed brick walls and a tiled roof. It was probably built as forester's cottage in the early 19th century. The lintel over the door now bears a Greek inscription οὐ φροντὶς ("Why Worry"). It is now a Grade II* listed building as "Clouds Hill (Lawrence of Arabia's Cottage)"; it was upgraded from Grade II in 2015.[1]

Lawrence first rented the cottage in 1923 while stationed at nearby Bovington Camp with the Tank Corps.[2][3] He made it habitable with the help of a friend, then bought it in 1925 and used it as a holiday home.[2] He described it as an earthly paradise[2] and wrote "Nothing in Clouds Hill is to be a care upon the world. While I have it there shall be nothing exquisite or unique in it. Nothing to anchor me."[citation needed] The cottage had no electric lights and three living rooms, described as an eating room, book room and music room. For heat insulation Lawrence had the eating room lined with asbestos that was covered in aluminium foil, and he kept his food under glass domes. In the book room he installed a large leather divan, and in the music room above it he had his gramophone "with a huge amplifier horn", a leather sofa and chair.[2]

In 1935 Lawrence left the Royal Air Force and lived at Clouds Hill. A few weeks later, at the age of 46, he suffered severe head injuries in a motorcycle accident close to the cottage, and died in the Bovington Camp hospital on 19 May 1935. The following year, his heir, his brother A. W. Lawrence gave Clouds Hill to the National Trust. It is now a museum, dedicated to Lawrence. It is open to visitors from the end of March to the beginning of October, Thursday – Sunday.

The cottage remains largely as Lawrence left it at his death. It features an exhibition detailing Lawrence's life, and most of his original furniture and possessions. The cottage reflects his complex personality and links to the Middle East.

The circular Lawrence of Arabia Trail starts and finishes at Bovington's The Tank Museum, taking in Clouds Hill and the churchyard of St Nicholas' Church in Moreton, Lawrence's final resting place.[4]

Sleeping bags[edit]

The garage of Clouds Hill containing an exhibit on the life of Lawrence

Lawrence reserved a sleeping bag for guests and visitors who stayed overnight. In 1965 it was stolen. The bag's disappearance coincided with the release of Lawrence of Arabia, the film which popularised his story and it was thought the theft could have been inspired by the publicity and excitement generated by the film.

In 2001, the sleeping bag was returned. The Independent reported:

"The sleeping bag that served as a guest bed to some of the 20th century's most distinguished authors at TE Lawrence's weekend retreat has been returned 36 years after it was stolen. National Trust custodians of Clouds Hill, the author's cottage in Dorset, were amazed when a weather-beaten package from Belgium arrived containing the sleeping bag, along with a sheepish note that read: 'This is yours'. The bag, embroidered with the word 'tuum' ['yours'], was provided for guests at the cottage, while Lawrence slept on the floor in the other sleeping bag, marked 'meum' ['mine']. According to Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence's biographer, tuum's occupants included George Bernard Shaw, E. M. Forster and Robert Graves" [5]

Address[edit]

Clouds Hill
Wareham, Dorset BH20 7NQ
Telephone: 01929 405616

References[edit]

  1. ^ List entry Number: 1120423
  2. ^ a b c d Hyams, John (1970). Dorset. B. T. Batsford Ltd. pp. 68–9. ISBN 0-7134-0066-8. 
  3. ^ Gant, Roland (1980). Dorset Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 0-7091-8135-3. 
  4. ^ Lawrence of Arabia Trail
  5. ^ It did not include Thomas Hardy nor Gustav Holst since the one lived comfortably nearby, and the other only stayed for tea."Lawrence of Arabia's stolen sleeping bag is posted home after 36 years" by Anna Whitney in The Independent, 9 April 2001

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°43′03″N 2°15′04″W / 50.7176°N 2.2510°W / 50.7176; -2.2510