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Lawrence of Arabia

April 5, 2010

With my sailing cancelled this weekend, I decided that heading home to Somerset was in order. Rather than sit in front of the fire for four days though, I have used some of my time productively (when not distracted by tonsillitis). Yesterday I engaged in a spot of hero worship, with a drive through Dorset to two spots related to T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).

The first stop was at Moreton. This is where Lawrence moved to after he became fed up of politics and the fame that had become attached to his name. After changing his name to T. E. Shaw, he moved to Dorset when he finished his service in the RAF but was killed a few weeks later in a motorbike accident. His grave is at the back of a small, quiet graveyard in the countryside.

Grave of T.E. Lawrence, Moreton, Dorset

My other stop was to an Anglo-Saxon church in Wareham, which is lucky enough to have an effigy of Lawrence housed there. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and was originally intended for Westminster Abbey, but he was too politically contentious after his death and it was very hard to find <em>any</em> cathedral or church who would keep it.

Effigy of T.E. Lawrence, Wareham, Dorset

There is a purpose to this post; if you haven’t read his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, do. It’s a wonderful book by someone who fought passionately for the Arab cause but was torn between his friendship of the Arab people and his duty as a British officer. There’s some debate about the truth of all the claims Lawrence makes in the book, but it’s a must read.

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