T.E. Lawrence Author and Adventurer

Adventurer, Army Colonel and author T.E. Lawrence (also known as Lawrence of Arabia) purchased a cottage in Bovington, Dorset for use as a retreat. During this time he wrote novels, entertained friends at his cottage and visited fellow author Thomas Hardy, often having coffee together at Anglebury House in Wareham.

The early years

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born in Wales on 16 August 1888. From the age of eight he lived in Oxford where he later studied Modern History at Jesus College.

His exploration of the world included a 1100 mile walking tour of Palestine and Syria, working as an archaeologist at Carchemish in Syria and being posted by the British army to Military Intelligence in Cairo.

During his army career as Captain T.E. Lawrence he led guerrilla raids against the Turkish Army. He was promoted to Major and then to Lieutenant Colonel.

As Colonel Lawrence, he returned to Britain in 1918 where he turned down a series of important jobs and tried to escape from the public eye by changing his identity.

In 1922, he became known as Aircraftsman Ross at Uxbridge, but his alias was discovered. 


In 1923, as T.E. Shaw, he made Dorset his new home. He joined the Tank Corps at Bovington and purchased nearby Clouds Hill cottage as a retreat. During this time he finished writing 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom' and 'The Mint'.

In 1925 he was allowed to rejoin the RAF, and after some time in Karachi he was posted to Plymouth, where he lobbied successfully for faster rescue boats.

He spent the rest of his career developing and testing high speed rescue boats, which formed the basis of the air-sea rescue service and retired to Clouds Hill in 1935.

Some famous people who visited Lawrence at Clouds Hill include:

  • Thomas Hardy (Author) & Florence Hardy
  • George Bernard Shaw (Author/Playwright) & Charlotte Shaw
  • E.M. Forster (Author)
  • Robert Graves (Author/Poet)
  • Siegfried Sassoon (Author/Poet)
  • Edward Garnet (Author)
  • Basil Liddell Hart (Author)
  • Gilbert Spencer (Artist)
  • Eric Kennington (Artist/Sculptor)
  • Augustus John ( Artist)
  • William Roberts (Artist) and Family

An untimely death

A few months after Lawrence's retirement, he was involved in a fatal crash on his Brough Superior motorcycle. 

His funeral was held on 21 May 1935 at St Nicholas' Church in Moreton. Many famous people attended including Sir Winston Churchill, Lady Astor, General Wavell (who flew in from Aldershot by Auto-giro) and Henry Williamson (Author). At such short notice, extra trains ran from London to Moreton railway station for all the people who wanted to attend the funeral.

His final resting place is in the cemetery at Moreton.

There are more than 87 books on Lawrence, two films and a stage play by Terence Rattigan, plus numerous radio programmes and tributes.

Lawrence of Arabia Trail

The Lawrence of Arabia Trail starts and finishes at Bovington's renowned Tank Museum, which contains an exhibition about T.E. Lawrence. It is a 7 mile long walking route, passing places of interest such as Lawrence's home at Clouds Hill (now owned by the National Trust) and his last resting place - the cemetery at Moreton. There are also information boards found at various locations on the Trail with information about Lawrence and his time in the area.

Visit the town of Wareham to see the collection of Lawrence related material at the Library, the exhibition at Wareham Museum or the stone carved effigy of Lawrence inside St Martin on the Walls Church.

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