Posted Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Here’s one property that we at Solving Empty Homes don’t mind remaining empty. It’s the childhood home of Lawrence of Arabia that must be urgently protected after it was put up for sale and historians fear it could be changed forever.
The T.E. Lawrence Society has appealed against a Government decision not to give the North Oxford house listed status and said it urgently needed protection.
The Polstead Road property, empty for more than two years, was recently put on the market with a guide price of £2.9m.
City councillor for the area, Liz Wade, said it was integral to the history of the city and that action must be taken immediately.
She said: “It’s very important the building is protected – the house has been empty for several years and is now in quite a bad way.
“A surveyor has said if you leave a house for that amount of time it’s going to get dry rot and I’m very worried about the condition.
“The more dilapidated it becomes, the more changes will be made and we don’t want that, it’s so important to the history of Oxford.”
“We need to do something and I’m hoping the house will be bought, either by a rich donor or the T.E. Lawrence Society.
“It could be turned into an archive downstairs and two upper flats rented out.
“In the meantime, I’m considered asking the city council to put a protection order on the house.”
The house was Lawrence’s family home from 1896 to 1921. He moved there aged eight and stayed until 1909, later returning from time to time.
It is where he spent his final year in the city before embarking on his travels in the Middle East, which would ultimately shape the rest of his military, diplomatic and literary career.
Of particular interest to historians is the timber bungalow, comprising a bedroom and study, built in the garden for Lawrence.
But Historic England, which informed the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s decision, said changes made in the 1970s had ‘diminished’ its value.
Alan Payne, from the T.E. Lawrence Society and a planning consultant, appealed to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last year and has since chased them for a decision given the urgency.
He said: “The Historic England report ignored the close historic linkage between T.E. Lawrence and 2 Polstead Road and placed too much emphasis on the building itself.
We need it to be listed quickly and I’m still waiting on a decision.
“People who have been in the house have said it’s in poor condition.
Mr Payne added that a cupboard, on which Mrs Lawrence had marked the heights of her five children, had already been removed and feared more historical features would follow.
T.E. Lawrence gained international fame as the ‘Uncrowned King of Arabia’ for uniting Arab tribes against the Turks during the First World War.
He died in a motorcycle accident in 1935 and was hailed at the time by the Oxford Mail as ‘the greatest mystery figure of modern times’ and ‘perhaps the greatest Oxford man of his time’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *