The first time I watched Lawrence of Arabia it was a challenge to get through the nearly four hour running time of the movie, but as my appreciation of the movie grew I found myself interested enough to tackle the book which inspired it – The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence (which took me months to read). While Lawrence’s actions that he reports in the book are the source of continuous debate it’s clear from everything that’s been written, recorded or filmed about him he was a complicated and conflicted guy.
For those who want go get as close to the real Lawrence as possible, and gain some insight into this enigmatic figure, his home Clouds Hill is open to the public. It’s the small cottage in Dorset which he fixed up himself to get away from the pressures of fame and work on the book that would cement his myth.
Below is a gallery of photos from a recent visit. I was worried it would be too dark inside for my widest lens, but on a sunny day and with a reasonable ISO I was able to photograph the entire four rooms in good detail and capture the comfortable mood of his reading room and music room.
On the bottom floor is the reading room (with the books he would have read but not the original ones) and the bathroom. On the top floor is the music room and the tin foil lined bathroom. One of my favourite things about the visit was learning how much of the fixtures and fittings were custom made by local crafts people to be as comfortable as possible for Lawrence.
It was easy to see why the cottage was an appealing getaway, and with the motto ‘Don’t Worry’ written in Greek above the front door you got a sense of him being a troubled man who was trying his best to take care of his mental wellbeing.
Visiting Clouds Hill helped to dispel some of the mystery surrounding Lawrence, especially the circumstances surrounding his death. It also dispelled the myth of him being a towering hero when I almost knocked my head on the ‘Don’t Worry’ sign – he was actually quite short at 5ft 4in, a full foot shorter than Peter O’Toole in David Lean’s epic movie.