We walked around the odd looking cottage to find the door, the front of the building was even more peculiar looking as it had no windows apart from a small sky light in the roof. On entering the house I paid my entrance (Freya was free) & noted no photos where allowed so planned to buy postcards at the end.
Headed up the stairs, which were in the centre of the house with small rooms either side, the first room, his music room, was quite bare with a few of Lawrence's artifacts & writings about him.
The room across the landing was his bunk room, which he had lined with silver foil to insulate it, only a bed in this room.
Downstairs was his bathroom, the walls, floor & ceiling covered in cork tiles & no toilet.
My favourite room came last, it was full of his treasured books, nearly 3000 of them were the most he had lining the walls in this small room. In the centre was a large leather bed he has designed himself, he used it in the day to read & entertain on. In the evening he rolled out his sleeping bag for a bed. Many photos of his life now adorn this room including one of him at Wadi Rum
Strangly enough no kitchen in the house and sadly no post cards of the interiour to buy in the end either. A wonderful little place and a lovely step back in time.
I have found the website below which has a couple of internal photos
Continuing on to the grave, we found ourselves at St Nicholas at Moreton a couple of miles away. We had a walk around the small graveyard to no avail, deciding his grave must be in the church we went in to find a tour group having a talk by a guide. It turns out Freya & I had stumbled on what was considered the greatest work of art made in Dorset in the 20th century!
On October the 8th 1940, German plane dropped a bomb which destroyed the north wall of St Nicholas' Church and every pane of glass in the building was blown out. The windows were replaced by the most beautiful plain glass which was engraved with wonderful pictures & images by Laurence Whistler. Without the dark stained glass windows the church has a very uplifting airy feel to it, with the interior being much brighter than a normal church.
The windows are very beautiful, of you are in the area definitely pop by.
Check out the below website for more photos
Not wanting to interrupt the talk in the church Freya & I wandered back towards the village & came across a builder, who finally gave us the directions to Lawrence’s Grave, it is in an external cemetery on the road which has the garden centre is situated, only a couple of hundred meters from St Nicholas church. We amazingly had the place to ourselves for a while, as you can see from the photo it is well maintained had fresh flowers.
His grave stone reads
To the dear memory of T.E Lawrence,
Fellow of All Souls Collage,
Born 16th of August 1888
Died 19th May 1935
The hour is coming and now is
when the dead shall hear
the voice of the
Son of God
And they that hear
At the foot of the grave is another stone with Latin inscription which was kindly translated for me by Nettie
"God is my enlightening"
We left the graveyard feeling very chuffed with myself that I had found what we were looking for in a very unexpected and fascinating day out.
Its only a short walk from the car park to the house itself through a tunnel of beautiful mature rhododendron bushes which Freya likened it to a jungle.
The name rhododendron comes from the Greek word "rhodo" which means rose and "dendron" which translates as tree. You tend find many rhododendrons in the stately homes & old properties around Britain.
I had no idea what to expect, the vast majority of National Trust properties I have visited have been castles, manor houses & stately homes so I was quite suprised when this tiny cottage came in to view, almost thinking it must be be game keepers house. But nope this is the rear of Clouds Hill, a charming unusual little place.
Lawrence was based at the Bovington army camp just a mile away from 1922-25, Clouds Hill became his escape from camp life after he found it in 1923.
From here or the nearby Tank Museum you can do a 7 mile circular walk through the local Bovington forest, this takes your to the sights of his death, Clouds Hill, his local church, Bovington camp and the grave yard where he is now buried at Moreton. If you fancied something a bit longer it is possible to start the route at Wareham where Lawrence spent a lot of his free time, although this makes the trail 18 miles long! There are notice boards around the route or pick up a trail map from one of the local tourist offices.
Opposite the entrance to the cottage is the large shed where Lawrence kept his beloved motorbike , which was later to cause his death in 1935.
Inside the shed now is a fascinating exhibition about his life and adventures, including a television showing a video. As in the house it can get quite cramped in there, so chose your times to visit, preferably not weekends during the school holidays. Even mid week when we were there people were queing to get in to the car park.
Once leaving Clouds Hill, Freya & I set off in search of Lawrences grave, which in the literature at the house I had read it was in a near by village. Driving along the road I noticed some people looking at a rock near the public viewing area of the Tank Museum, we pulled over to find it was a memorial to T. E. Lawrence as he died near the spot. The memorial reads.
Near this spot
13th of May 1935
The Tank Museum is just huge, It sprawls over a large area with exhibits both inside & out. We didnt actually have time to go inside on this visit, but there is plenty to view from the outside.
A great feature is the public viewing area, just of the main road running past which is free to view. Army from the local camp train here in the areas you can see in the photo. We were not lucky enough to see any training in progress, but there were plenty of people waiting for it to start, so I imagine it is fairly regular.
Open all year round 10 - 5 admission £8.50 with consessions for children & OAPs.
Looking on a map of the local area I noticed a National Trust property called Clouds Hill. Knowing this was the name of T. E Lawrence's home, or better known as "Lawrence of Arabia", but not actually realising where it was in England. So we drove up to have a look to see if it was, and it was!
The car park is tiny so after telling a 4x4 driver to move his car over so other people can park, Freya & I excitedly squeezed in to a space parked up (admittedly I was slightly more excited than my 4 year old). We wandered over to the National Trust sign to read this was Lawrence's occassional retreat & admission was only £3.50