Western Morning News

Lawrence of Arabia’s RAF plate for sale


AN RAF mess plate, believed to have been owned and used by T. E. Lawrence the famous British archaeolog­ist, army officer and writer, is set to be sold at auction in Dorset after being discovered in a local cottage.

The plate, estimated to be valued at between £500 and £1,000, will go under the hammer during an online auction at Charterhou­se, Sherborne, on Feburary 5.

“Thomas Edward Lawrence, more commonly known as T. E. Lawrence, was popularise­d in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia staring Peter O’Toole as Lawrence alongside Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif and others,” said Richard Bromell, of Charterhou­se.

“To find anything connected to Lawrence is incredibly rare as he led a modest life at Cloud’s Hill, his small country retreat near Wareham, Dorset.”

The pottery plate in the Charterhou­se auction bears the RAF insignia.

T. E. Lawrence served as an officer in the First World War and after the war he joined the British Foreign Office.

In 1922 he retreated from public life and joined the RAF as an enlisted man under the pseudonym of T. E. Shaw and was stationed for a time at RAF Mountbatte­n in Plymouth.

In 1926 he published The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an autobiogra­phical account of his time and participat­ion in the Arabian Revolt.

He was fatally injured in 1935 while riding his Brough Superior SS100 close to his cottage Cloud’s Hill, near Wareham in Dorset.

The pottery plate, which measures 24 cm diameter, was discovered in a Dorset cottage by Charterhou­se auctioneer­s.

Having carried out a valuation for probate they were instructed by the executors to clear the property.

On the back of the plate is an old paper label saying the plate was the property of TE Lawrence during his days in the RAF and had been presented to Cauis School in Shoreham-by-Sea in 1950.

The school was privately owned by the Lewis family who lived in the Dorset cottage where this plate was found, along with other mementos from the school including silver trophies and shields.

“We often come across paper labels stuck onto items. Some of these can be applied to deceive so you always have to tread carefully,” Richard Bromell said.

But he said in this case the label and the plate looks and feels right. “I think in this case the label could be quite possibly a genuine reference to T. E. Lawrence,” he added.

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