VETERAN journalist John Simpson and MP Rory Stewart want a north Oxford home to be transformed into a Lawrence of Arabia study centre.

The childhood home of TE Lawrence, 2 Polstead Road, went on the market last year with a guide price of £2.9m and remains unsold.

The TE Lawrence Society appealed against a Government decision not to give the house listed status and said it urgently needed protection.

Oxford Mail:

Now BBC World Affairs Editor Mr Simpson, who lives in Oxford, and former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart want the home to be bought with a view to converting it into a permanent memorial to TE Lawrence, who was renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

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Mr Stewart, who has made a two-part documentary for the BBC on Lawrence and his legacy, and Mr Simpson, who in the course of many years’ reporting has followed in Lawrence’s footsteps — want 2 Polstead Road to be transformed into a centre for Lawrence studies.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Simpson and Mr Stewart wrote: “We believe the house should be bought and returned to its condition of a century ago, when Lawrence lived there.

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“From our standpoint the most suitable buyer would be one of the three Oxford colleges Lawrence belonged to: Jesus, where he was an undergraduate; All Souls, where he was a distinguished Fellow; and Magdalen, where he was given a four-year research fellowship.

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“We feel the house should be opened to the public, and hope that some of the interesting and remarkable objects and documents held by a number of institutions could be put on display.”

Oxford Mail:

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.

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It is where he spent his final year in the city before embarking on his travels in the Middle East. Of particular interest to historians is the timber bungalow, comprising a bedroom and study, built in the garden for Lawrence, who died in 1935.

Oxford Mail:

City councillor Liz Wade, who is meeting the TE Lawrence Society next week, welcomed the proposals. She said: “People would come from all over the world.”