ALF PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER
AMERICA
DB5
CARIAD
DUSTY
GIESHA
PUB SIGN
QUAY INN WINDOW
SCHOONER AT DAWN
SHETLAND LOCH
ST MARTIN'S CHURCH
STOBOROUGH
WATERLILLIES
TRIUMPH OF DEATH
CURRENT PROJECT

St. Martin's Church, Wareham

Oil on board.

Dorset's oldest church, St Martin's in Wareham is a 1,000 years old and famous for housing a priceless effigy of Lawrence of Arabia.

In the north aisle of this tiny church, which seats 40 at a push, sits a priceless effigy of T. E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia. It was sculpted by the Eric Kennington, the official war artist for both the First and Second World Wars, between 1936 and 1939.

It's perhaps not the first place you'd expect to find a tribute by a well-known artist to a man who became famous for being the only British officer on the Arab front fighting against the Turks. But, as Merville Gover, Church Warden at St Martin's, explains, Wareham wasn't the first choice for the effigy's final resting place: "The effigy was actually made for St Paulís Cathedral. I think the political unrest surrounding his death meant that they wouldn't accept him. He was then offered to Westminster Abbey and they wouldn't accept him. Then he was offered to Salisbury Cathedral and they wouldn't accept him. That's why he came to St Martin's. They had to put him somewhere."


Lawrence is depicted in the effigy as recumbent in Arabic dress with a curved dagger in his hand and a whip to his side. His feet rest against a block of Hittite sculpture of two fighting bulls representing his archaeological research and his struggles in the First World War.

St Martin's, as it now stands, represents the most complete example of a Saxon church in Dorset. Aspects showing its Saxon origin include a tall, narrow nave and chancel, late Saxon wall-arcading in the North West Isle and traces of a Saxon door.

   
© Dave Wheatley
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