Things to do at Clouds Hill
Step inside the rural retreat of TE Lawrence at Clouds Hill, Dorset. Discover the cottage where Lawrence of Arabia sat to write, read and relax, a short distance away from army life at the Bovington Camp.
Explore inside the cottage
From a huge day bed for reading in a room full of books, to the shed where he kept his beloved motorbike, the cottage is small but packed with plenty to see.
The Book Room
The Book Room was where Lawrence would relax in the evenings, escaping from the hustle and bustle of army life at Bovington Camp.
The large, leather-covered bed was for reading rather than sleeping. The room contains many of Lawrence's original possessions, and a reading chair which he had specially made to fit his small frame.
Hot baths were one of Lawrence's favourite luxuries. Although he didn't have a toilet at the cottage, he installed the bathroom, lined the walls with cork and fed water up through a pump from a nearby tank. He also fitted a boiler into the room to heat the water.
The Music Room
The Music Room was where Lawrence would write and entertain his guests. Sometimes they would listen to music played on the special gramophone Lawrence had made, with its huge horn. At other times they would chat or eat simple suppers.
‘I've taken a little cottage (half ruinous) a mile from camp, and water-tighted it to act as a room for myself. There I hope in future to do my writing, which is becoming more and more a habit.’
– TE Lawrence, 1923
The Bunk Room
Although Lawrence slept in barracks at nearby Bovington Camp, he let his guests stay overnight in the Bunk Room. He made the ships' cabin bed himself and on top you can see his sleeping bag. He also kept food such as cheese and nuts in glass bell jars in this room. He lined the Bunk Room with metal foil to keep it cool.
The Motorbike Shed
Lawrence was passionate about motorbikes and owned several Brough Superiors during his time at Clouds Hill. These were the highest quality and fastest motorbikes available at the time. They were tailor-made for him and he kept them in the shed. Today the shed contains a display about Lawrence's life and some basic facilities for making tea and coffee.
Take in the view from the hill
In the evening Lawrence loved to climb up to the top of the small hill overlooking the cottage. He would spend time there looking down onto the peaceful cottage in quiet meditation.
Enjoy your own peaceful moment during your visit to Clouds Hill, perhaps while eating a picnic on the bench.
Brass rubbing trail
As a young boy, Lawrence was fascinated with medieval history and imagery. Aged nine, he discovered brass rubbing and would visit local churches creating rubbings from medieval tombs.
You now have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and complete your own rubbings from eight zinc plaques hidden in the hillside surrounding the cottage, each with an image relating to a key time in Lawrence’s life. Trail sheets and crayons are provided – although aimed at children, visitors of all ages are invited to try it.
The trail has been funded with the help of South Dorset National Trust Association.
Inside Clouds Hill
Take a closer look inside a few of the cottage's rooms.
The Book Room
TE Lawrence would relax on the day bed in the Book Room.
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.
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.
Learn about the work we do to look after Clouds Hill and care for its collection, from maintaining stable humidity levels to surveyors monitoring the fragile building itself