Society member and Clouds Hill volunteer Martin Gething has been researching the history of the cottage in the period before T E Lawrence started renting it in 1923.
Although some authors have suggested Lawrence named the cottage himself, Martin has found documents referring to a hilly area of heathland called ‘Clouds Hill’ all the way back to property deeds of 1735, and the cottage name used in numerous nineteenth century birth and death records and newspaper wedding announcements.
Through these and other archive records, Martin has identified over 30 named individuals who lived in the cottage from 1808 to 1913, with families of up to nine living in the tiny four-room cottage. The breadwinners were woodmen, while their children went on to be tailors, railway workers, inn keepers, blacksmiths, policemen and farmers – giving a glimpse of rural life in Dorset.
A summary of the cottage’s history can be found here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clouds-hill/features/clouds-hill-before-lawrence, and Martin’s research has featured in the February 2020 issue of Who Do You Think You Are Magazine: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/issue/february-2020.
Martin has also produced a leaflet on some of the family stories, available free to visitors to Clouds Hill.