Friday, 24 April 2009

Far from the madding crowd

Clouds Hill

The music room

The book room

The back of the cottage

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. - T. E. Lawrence

T.E. Lawrence, using the name Shaw to avoid publicity, rented Clouds Hill in 1923 as a retreat from nearby Bovington Camp when he rejoined the Air Force. In 1925 Lawrence bought the cottage and it became his earthly paradise. He did not sleep at the cottage but spent evenings there reading, writing and listening to Beethoven and Mozart.

The tiny rooms* of Clouds Hill are as Lawrence left them with simple and austere furnishings, some of which he made himself. The cottage reflects his complex personality and monastic way of life. The crowded book room is lined with shelves from floor to ceiling. It is here that Lawrence found the peace and quiet he needed to work on his Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which was published in 1926.

In 1935 Lawrence was discharged at the age of 46 from the Air Force and returned to Clouds Hill to live out his days. Five days later he was killed in a motorcycle crash when returning to Clouds Hill from Bovington Camp.

Clouds Hill, the rural retreat of T. E. Lawrence, is now a part of Britain's National Trust.

Of further possible interest -

Lawrence of Dorset: From Arabia to Clouds Hill by Rodney Legg

Journal of the T. E. Lawrence Society

*It was one of these tiny rooms, specifically the cork lined bathroom, that inspired the kitchen in W1.

Now playing on iTunes: Sting - Desert Rose
via FoxyTunes


An Aesthete's Lament said...

Several nights ago, friends and I were watching "Lawrence of Arabia" ... ravishing movie, Lawrence a tad crazy, and O'Toole wears way too much mascara ...

Mrs. Blandings said...

Who and what, I wonder, in those photos in the book room?

little augury said...

no wonder I love T E Lawrence. what a lovely way to start morning reads.
a perfect place it seems. G

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Thanks for these images of Clouds Hill. I visited it some years ago and have, yes, a cloudy image in my mind which resonates with the arts and crafts aesthetic and Lawrence's asceticism which was said to include self-flagellation. I'll buy that. Set amongst the trees on a winding Dorset lane, it's one of the most chillingly romantic of National Trust properties.

HOBAC said...

R - it has been years since I saw Clouds Hill, but it made quite an impression. Romantic is the perfect description.