Welcome to Tyneham. In what could be considered one of the most beautiful spots in the country, with Kimmeridge Bay to the East and Lulworth Cove to the West, sits this characterful village. A mix of huts and country houses make up the village and a traditional church sits in the centre.
Only one thing doesn’t add up - the village is completely deserted. What could cause the inhabitants of this idyllic coastal town to leave? It happened suddenly, a letter was issued and seemingly overnight Tyneham became a ghost village.
The tale of Dorset’s very own lost village
On Christmas Eve 1943, this peaceful village near the sea and 7,500 acres of surrounding heathland were commandeered by the War Office to help train Allied troops. The 252 inhabitants of the tiny Dorset village were given only days to pack their belongings and leave their homes.
As they left, the displaced families pinned a note to the Church door entreating those who came after to take good care of 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 and in 1948 the village and surrounding land were compulsorily purchased and, despite campaigns, the inhabitants were never allowed to return. What was originally a temporary militarisation of the area became a permanent situation and it is still used for gunnery and other training manoeuvres to this day.
A beautiful and moving place to visit
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 schoolhouse 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 and has a wonderful churchyard to match.
The village is primarily open to the public at weekends with a few exceptions. The exhibitions in Tyneham Church, Tyneham Farm and Tyneham School are open between 10am and 4pm. Check the calendar to plan your trip.
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 a satnav! 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 very poor in the area around the village!
Dogs are welcome and a short walk (1 mile) from the village leads to the spectacular Worbarrow Bay where they are welcome all year round.
Thinking of travelling to the Jurassic Coast to uncover this lost village? Stay at nearby Lulworth and you could also visit the turquoise waters of Lulworth Cove and see the unique Durdle Door rock formation while here.