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Our work at Clouds Hill

The Bookroom at Clouds Hill, Dorset
The Bookroom at Clouds Hill | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Find out more about the work our team of skilled conservationists and surveyors carry out to look after Clouds Hill and care for its collection. This ranges from maintaining stable temperatures and humidity levels in the cottage using humidistats, to National Trust surveyors monitoring the fragile building itself for any structural changes throughout the year.

A tiny cottage with an extraordinary contents

The collection at Clouds Hill provides a unique insight into the life and mind of TE 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, typewriter and an EMG gramophone with a huge horn, as well as his large leather day bed and custom-made reading chair.  

View of the Music Room at Clouds Hill, showing the EMG gramophone, typewriter, window and leather settee
View of the Music Room at Clouds Hill | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Caring for the collection at Clouds Hill

Today, a small team of skilled conservationists look after the collection here. They work all 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 found due to the woodland setting, which thankfully have not caused any damage to the cottage or collection).

The entire contents of the collection are 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.

Conservation cleaning the Dining Room chairs at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
Conservation cleaning chairs | © National Trust Images/Alana Wright

Deeper cleaning and structural monitoring

During the winter months and closed periods, more in-depth cleaning of the collection is carried out, and during these 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.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

The view from inside the Book Room with the window at the end at Clouds Hill, Dorset

Clouds Hill's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Clouds Hill on the National Trust Collections website.

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Visitors exploring outside the cottage at Clouds Hill, Dorset.

History of Clouds Hill 

Discover more about the history of those who lived at Clouds Hill, once a woodsman's cottage and then an isolated retreat for various residents including TE Lawrence.

The Bookroom at Clouds Hill, Dorset

Things to do at Clouds Hill 

Explore inside the cottage where Lawrence of Arabia, TE Lawrence, sat to write, read and relax away from army life, and discover the shed where he tended to his beloved motorbike.

The upstairs living room at Clouds Hill, Dorset, which has exposed wooden beams, a brick fireplace and a brown leather sofa.

Booking your visit to Clouds Hill 

If you are planning a visit to Clouds Hill it is recommended you book your visit in advance. Find out more about how to book and what to expect when you arrive.

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We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.

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For everyone, for ever: our strategy to 2025 

Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.