Tyneham – Dorset’s ghost village
The inhabitants of this tiny Dorset village were only given days to pack their belongings and leave their homes just before Christmas in 1943. The village and 7,500 acres of surrounding heathland were commandeered by the War Office and the 252 inhabitants were never allowed back. As they left, the displaced families pinned a note to the Church door entreating those who came after to look after their village.
“PLEASE TREAT THE CHURCH AND HOUSES WITH CARE. WE HAVE GIVEN UP OUR HOMES, WHERE MANY OF US HAVE LIVED FOR GENERATIONS, TO HELP WIN THE WAR AND KEEP MEN FREE. WE SHALL RETURN ONE DAY AND THANK YOU FOR TREATING THE VILLAGE KINDLY.”
Sadly for them, they were wrong. In 1948 the village and surrounding land land were compulsorily purchased and what was originally a temporary militarization of the area became permanent. It is still used for gunnery and other training today.
It’s an eerie experience, walking around this ghost village, accessible only at weekends when the military firing range is not in use. Always check the opening times for walking on the Lulworth Ranges and accessing Tyneham village before planning your big day out!
While many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair or have been damaged by shelling, the school house has been preserved as a museum. In addition, the MOD was required to maintain the Church as part of the agreement to seize the land, so St Mary’s is absolutely immaculate with a wonderful churchyard to match.
The exhibitions in Tyneham School and Tyneham Church are open from 10am until 4pm while the gates to the walks are open at 9am on Saturday and remain open until 8am on Monday morning when only open at the weekends.
The gate to Tyneham is locked each night at dusk. Entry is free but there is a donation box in the carpark.
Tyneham can be a little tricky to find as it is not well signposted and it does not have a postcode that can be entered into satnavs! We suggest taking the A35, then A351 towards Swanage. Just after Wareham turn right and follow signs to Creech/Kimmeridge, then Tyneham. The turning to Tyneham village and Worbarrow Bay is on the left. Please note: mobile reception is also poor!
Dogs are welcome and a short walk (1 mile) from the village leads to the spectacular Worbarrow Bay where dogs are welcome all year round.