Our work in the cottage at Clouds Hill

Conservationist at work cleaning a mantle piece

Find out more about the work we do to look after Clouds Hill and care for its collection.

A tiny cottage filled with an extraordinary contents

The collection at Clouds Hill gives a unique insight into the life and mind of T. E. Lawrence – better known as 'Lawrence of Arabia'.

Lawrence furnished the rooms of his rural retreat to his own personal taste and they remain much as he left them. Following his death, Clouds Hill was gifted to the National Trust along with most of the original contents.

The contents range from leather doors and rugs which reflect his time living in the desert, to items he carefully designed himself such as a tea set, candle sconces and fire fenders which he had made by local craftspeople. Also in the collection are Lawrence's writing desk, type writer and an EMG gramaphone with its huge horn, as well as his large leather day bed and custom made reading chair.  

Caring for the collection at Clouds Hill

Today, a small team of skilled conservationists look after the collection at Clouds Hill. They work year round to protect the objects from light, dust, pests, humidity and temperature changes - making sure the collection is kept in a stable environment.

The team maintain stable temperatures and humidity levels by using radiators attached to humidistats, and window blinds are used to protect against UV damage. They also manage insect activity inside the cottage (it's largely woodlice that the team find due to the woodland setting, which have not caused any damage to the cottage or collection). The entire contents of the collection is also covered with dust sheets each night due to one lone resident bat who seems to prefer Clouds Hill to the area across the road where the rest of the bat colony roost! We are installing a bat box in the tree outside the cottage hoping this lone bat might decide to make a home there instead.

During the winter months and closed periods, more in-depth cleaning of the collection is carried out, and during these closed periods items can be sent away for specialist conservation This year we were able to send two small paintings off for some conservation work – which will be returned to Clouds Hill before we reopen.

Designed originally as a woodsman’s cottage with no foundations, the building itself is rather fragile. It is monitored throughout the year by National Trust surveyors who help to record or respond to any structural changes.

It is through your support that we can carry out these works and continue to look after the unique collection at Clouds Hill – thank you!

View of the Music Room at Cloud's Hill, showing the EMG gramophone, typewriter, window and leather settee with cushions
View of the Music Room at Cloud's Hill, showing the EMG gramophone, typewriter, window and leather settee with cushions
View of the Music Room at Cloud's Hill, showing the EMG gramophone, typewriter, window and leather settee with cushions