Clouds Hill, near Wareham

Clouds Hill, near Wareham

Shrouded by trees and shrubs in a portrait flicked with long grass and streaked with dappled sunlight, Clouds Hill cottage is like something from the pages of a novel – rather appropriately, as it was once the home of the enigmatic author and solider, Lawrence of Arabia.

Born in August 1888, Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence went on to have a successful career as an archaeologist, army officer, diplomat and author. Famous for his role in the Arab Revolt and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during World War One, his adventures took him across the world and earned him the immortal title of Lawrence of Arabia. Yet despite his travels, it was here in this tiny cottage in Dorset he found his home. 

Quoted as saying, 'I've a hut in a wood near camp wherein I spend my spare evenings', Lawrence started renting this isolated woodsman’s cottage in September 1923. In a sorry state of disrepair, having stood empty for nearly a decade, the cottage was eventually bought outright by Lawrence in 1929. In the months to follow, he would begin carrying out extensive repairs and filling Clouds Hill with his belongings in anticipation of his retirement in 1935.

Sadly, Lawrence was never able to enjoy his retirement, tragically dying at the age of 46 following a motorbike accident. Not far from Clouds Hill cottage, he was thrown over the handlebars of his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle as he swerved to avoid two young boys on bicycles, dying six days later on 19th May 1935. With the cottage initially inherited by Lawrence’s younger brother Arnold, it was soon passed to the National Trust.

Having furnished the rooms of the cottage and filled them with his belongings, this magical rural retreat has largely been left untouched since Lawrence died. Authentically reflecting his personal taste and providing an invaluable insight into his personal life, the cottage is a remarkable memorial and museum. Particularly captivating are the Book Room, where Lawrence would while away evenings, and the Music Room, where he would write and entertain friends.  

Outside the cottage, there is still his motorcycle shed and a newly planted picnic bench. Sat in the spot Lawrence would climb up to in the evenings and take in the views, the bench’s hilltop position affords beautiful views over the countryside and the cottage. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Dorset here.

Clouds Hill, King George V Road, Bovington, near Wareham BH20 7NQ | 01929 405 616 

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