Dorset

TE Lawrence's reading chair on loan in Germany

Undated portrait of TE Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, by society photographer Howard Coster
Image caption TE Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident

A reading chair designed and used by TE Lawrence at his home in Dorset has been loaned to a German museum.

The chair, from Clouds Hill in Wareham, has been loaned to Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Köln, until December.

Clouds Hill, which is cared for by the National Trust, now has a replica chair.

The original was made for Lawrence, who became famous as Lawrence of Arabia, in 1933 and is thought to have been crafted in Southampton.

The leather upholstery chair with sprung sheepskin cushions arrived at Clouds Hill cottage in January 1934 - 18 months before Lawrence died following a motorcycle accident.

In order to keep it preserved no one is allowed to sit in the original chair, but visitors to the cottage are being invited to sit in the replica seat.

'Fighter plane'

James Grasby, a National Trust curator, said: "Normally we are reluctant to loan items during the open season, so as not to disappoint visitors by their absence.

"But by having a replica made we can let visitors not only see what it looks like, but to experience just how comfortable this chair was to sit in."

The original chair has an accompanying stainless steel book rest and was placed by the fire in the downstairs book room of Clouds Hill, which was also his bedroom.

Mr Grasby added: "Sitting there he must have appeared like a pilot in the cockpit of a fighter plane, navigating his way through the virtual worlds laid out in his huge collection of books."

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