Tyneham was once a pleasing and proud hamlet in a fertile valley at the foot of one of the highest hills in the Purbeck Range. An Elizabethan Mansion, a handful of grey cottages, a fine medieval church, and a school was home to a small rural community, near the coast at Worbarrow.

In 1943 the entire village was evacuated, and it now forms part of a 7,500 acre Army firing range. When the villagers left they pinned a note to the door of St. Mary's church which read:

'Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.'

The Government went back on its promise to give the village back and in 1948 it was compulsorily purchased by the army. Shelling, neglect and vandalism have all but destroyed it. Despite the conversion of both the school and church into museums, and the thriving wildlife on the surrounding ranges, an air of sadness haunts the village and its roofless cottages.

No one will live in Tyneham again and it can only be visited when the guns are silent

A few weeks before it was evacuated the Post Office had installed a grand new telephone kiosk for the villagers, decorated in the then traditional cream concrete style with the familiar ornate cupola roof. It still remains, sealed, brightly repainted, and reminiscent of a Dr Who time capsule which has just arrived in a dead village.

Back
Monitor page
for changes
    
   it's private   

by ChangeDetection

2000 The Dorset Page