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All Souls College & T.E. Lawrence

Posted on 05 Mar, 2016

All Souls College & T.E. Lawrence

In the Autumn of 2015, with many of the Fellows returning to Oxford University and their academic posts, there was much upheaval as rooms were changed and spruced up for their new occupiers.  We have a history of supplying a number of Fellows of All Souls with our comfortable, supportive leather wing chairs - perfect for reading, thinking, and conversing.  But the really exciting moments are down in the vaults and cellars of this venerable institution where we have found all sorts of treasures waiting for restoration and reupholstery, and to be returned to academic service.

During this particular visit in September, The Manciple produced a key from the biggest bundle we have seen and said "Perhaps you would like to see the fabled Lawrence Suite?  We have his furniture in here and it might need some work".  And there, still sitting in the same place that it did when TE Lawrence was a Fellow at All Souls College from 1919-26,  was his low leather sofa and two matching chairs.  Deep seats, dark brown leather,  the brass studs shiny with use and turned stretchers underneath.  Slightly newer velvet cushions have protected the leather extremely well with only the springs and stuffing in the seats in need of attention.  We always like to leave as much leather as possible in it's original state if it has retained its strength.  The interest and value lies in the patina of age and use, and Lawrence worked on The Seven Pillars of Wisdom in this room.

Seeing these beautiful and venerable institutions is one of the perks of our job but, more importantly, the time and care these august establishments spend restoring their beautiful possessions and the fact that they are then put back into use, not just mothballed, is inspiring.  We recommended that the condition of the chairs warranted no work at all, and that we could repair the worn leather on the front rail of the sofa invisibly - see if you can spot it above !

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