ONE OF the National Trust's smallest properties throws open its doors this weekend after finishing its winter closure.

Clouds Hill was the retreat of T E Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia, when he was stationed at the Tank Corps at Bovington Camp in 1923.

Before opening, conservators will dust down the cottage and Lawrence’s possessions, ready for the first visitors to arrive on 1 March. Clouds Hill has some resident bats in the upstairs room which Lawrence called the music room, and conservators will be checking their droppings haven’t caused any damage over the winter season, said a spokesman.

The isolated woodsman’s cottage was taken by Lawrence as a bolt hole to escape the fame his wartime exploits had brought him.moved into the cottage with the intention of living there on a permanent basis after he left the Royal Air Force in 1935, but he was to die in a motorcycle accident just a few weeks later.

“Clouds Hill is such a special place, but its small size and location presents a challenge to conservators and it has been very carefully looked after, which is why it has to be closed for part of the year,” said house steward Elizabeth Grant.

Around 20,000 people each year pass under the stone lintel of the home's door, which was carved by Lawrence.