(Has Been) Seen on the Green
Famous Faces From Chingford
by Thom Goddard
This Month: T.E. Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia
Imagine this. You are one of the most famous people on the planet and need to make the finishing touches to a book George Bernard Shaw will call "literary genius". Where do you go to find solace and dedication? Chingford, of course.
Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO was born on 16th August 1888 in Tremadog, Wales. While studying at Jesus College, Oxford, he met Chingford old boy Vyvyan Richards and they toured the Ottoman Empire until the outbreak of the First World War. Separated after volunteering for the British Army, Lawrence's knowledge of the Middle East and the fact he spoke 8 languages meant he was recruited to the Arab Bureau of the Foreign Office. T.E. Lawrence became the leading British officer in the "Arab Revolt", leading multiple Arabian tribes to join one another to defeat the Turkish Empire.
Immediately after the First World War Colonel Lawrence became one of the most famous men in the world. Journalist Lowell Thomas made a film, and a fortune, portraying Lawrence as a superman who won the war single-handedly. To escape national hysteria Lawrence contacted his old friend Vyvyan Richards, who had become a teacher at Bancroft's School, and bought 18 acres of Pole Hill on the day he left the army in 1919. He wrote to his friend: "I'm out of the army today and have paid for Pole Hill... I feel years more settled in mind, and hope that we will acquire merit there together."
On Pole Hill Lawrence built a small house and a swimming pool. He planned to build a manor house and printing works but these never appeared. T.E. Lawrence completed the book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" on Pole Hill and planted a ring of 7 trees that still remain at the top. He also planted fruit trees where Hawkswood Nursery, Epping Glade, is now and Ken Jones, from Orion Harriers, remembers nipping in to the "Arabian Orchard" when he was young.
In 1930, having owned the land for 11 years, Colonel Lawrence sold Pole Hill and the surrounding land to the Chingford Urban Council for £3,500 on the provision it become and remain part of Epping Forest, as it does today. The hut was demolished and rebuilt in The Warren, Loughton, where it remains an Epping Forest hidden gem. T. E. Lawrence died aged 46 years old in a motorcycle accident in 1935. There is a plaque commemorating Lawrence of Arabia on top of Pole Hill and a near-by road was renamed Arabia Close in 1965 in his honour so although not seen, he is not forgotten. So do keep a look out for anyone you meet in the Mount or have seen on the Green!
If you spot anyone contact: firstname.lastname@example.org