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Lawrence of Arabia

T E Lawrence Grave
T E Lawrence Grave

Lawrence of Arabia’s life and death are well documented elsewhere and not repeated here, but what were his connections to Moreton and why is he buried here?

Simply put, T E Lawrence was attempting to remain in obscurity by enlisting as a private in the tank corps, based nearby at Bovington. His cousins, the Frampton family, owned Moreton Estate which borders Bovington Camp. He rented and subsequently purchased his cottage at Clouds Hill from the Framptons.

He was a frequent visitor to Okers Wood House in the north of the estate where Louisa Frampton lived, close to Clouds Hill. He corresponded with her for many years and copies of some of their letters are on display in Moreton Tea Rooms.

While it appears he was careless with his life, his death was clearly an unplanned accident witnessed by two local boys, one of whom was alive until recently and who had little time for the conspiracy theorists. His sudden demise left little scope for planning, and his mother contacted the Framptons to ask whether he could be buried at Moreton.

portico
Portico

Despite the lack of warning, his funeral a week later was attended by the great and the good of the country including Sir Winston and Lady Churchill. Scenes from the occasion can be seen in the Lawrence Room at the Tea Rooms, as can the estate bier (coffin trolley).

The village school provided the choir for the funeral. By coincidence the twins Walter and Harry Pitman who refuelled Lawrence’s motorcycle at Bovington immediately before his accident were also in the choir. They were at the opening of the Tea Rooms at a function for old school children and can be seen together at the front of the group photograph (and in the choir photo of you know where to look). Test out the staff at the Tea Rooms by asking which of the choirboys are the Pitman twins!!

Lawrence’s grave is in the churchyard, separate from the church behind the portico pictured here.

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