Clouds Hill is a Treasure House

The life of T. E. Lawrence is a fascinating one, so I was pleased to finally visit his Dorset country cottage that he used as a refuge from the rest of the world.  It is very near to the Bovington Army Camp where he was serving.  He often slept in barracks but used the cottage during the day to read, write and entertain guests.  It was on the road between Clouds Hill and the camp that he had his fatal motorcycle accident.

I was pleased to see the Henry Scott Tuke painting of Lawrence tying up his webbing after a swim near Falmouth.  The guide in the room told me that the painting is more properly called ‘A Cadet on Newporth Beach’ which may mean that it wasn’t actually Lawrence at all, although the likeness suggests it is.  In any case, it was presented to the National Trust by Lawrence’s brother.  The Clouds Hill property was also donated to the Trust by A W Lawrence, after his brother’s death.


They also had a reproduction of the Augustus John pencil portrait that was used in some editions of ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’.




One thought on “Clouds Hill is a Treasure House

  1. Augustus John’s sketch of T.E. Lawrence became truly iconic, perhaps because it appeared on the Penguin edition of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
    I saw the Peter O’Toole film at the age of 13. As flawed as it is, David Lean’s direction of the Robert Bolt screenplay left me haunted.
    It was the stricken look on O’Toole’s face in the final scene which compelled me on a quest for Lawrence. Was it possible to separate the man from the legend?
    Around this time BBC Television screened a production of Terence Rattigan’s play Ross, an exploration of Lawrence’s life after Arabia.
    I am currently reading The Rattigan Version by B.A. Young (1986), a critical study of the great playwright who fell so suddenly from fashion.
    And in the early 1990s, I think, Ralph Fiennes played Lawrence, quite brilliantly, in a film for television; I have it on video.
    Incidentally P.J Kavanagh told me he had a small part in the Lean movie. He plays a young subaltern who ushers O’Toole into the presence of General Allenby (Jack Hawkins). Mr Kavanagh had great fun making the movie on location but told me he had never gone to see it.
    The Henry Scott Tuke painting is new to me. I am glad you have introduced me to it. I have always been interested in that generation of painters. Philip Wilson Steer greatly interests me; some years ago they made a film about Steer.
    I have a reproduction of a Steer on my wall: Seated Nude, The Black Hat painted in 1900..
    It seems that the Lawrence industry never abates, but neither does my interest in Arab politics and Arab history.
    I saw a paperback biography of Lawrence’s early years in Waterstones last week; I must go back and get it. His early pre-1914 years as an archaeologist and antiquarian interests me. My hinterland too.
    This is off topic, but your feature led me to look again at my paperback biography of D.H. Lawrence by John Worthen.
    Didn’t someone once write an essay on the two English Lawrences?
    Did they ever meet? I think they did but perhaps I am mistaken.
    I remember Susan Sontag saying that Paul Goodman reminded her in one sense of D.H. Lawrence. As much as she often disagreed with both writers, she just had to read everything that they had ever written.
    Many of us are drawn to writers and thinkers we find strange, elusive and even alien. Men and women who possess a quality of otherness.
    That is the case with T.E. Lawrence. Hinterland can be a strange country. They do things differently there.
    Best wishes.
    John Haggerty

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