The ghost village of Tyneham where time stopped in 1943 – they had 28 days to leave

Tigeham, meaning “goat enclosure,” is mentioned in the Domesday Book. After a century, the village was known as Tiham, and then Tyneham.

The limestone church of St Mary dates from the 13th century. The people of Tyneham, Dorset, evacuated their homes during WWII over 73 years ago. Simon Templar took all of the images.

Tyneham village and its neighboring hamlets were evacuated in 1943 to allow Allied troops to train for the D-Day assault. Helen Taylor was the last person to go, and she left a passionate statement on the church door, saying, “Please treat the church and residences with care.” “We have given up our homes, where many of us have lived for generations, to aid in the victory of the war and the freedom of men.”

The last resident to leave, was Helen Taylor and posted a very sad note on the church door

The villagers were informed in November 1943 that they would have to leave within 28 days because the area was required for army training. The last occupants left on December 17, 1943, believing that they would be able to return one day. Unfortunately, this was not to be.

Tyneham is Dorset’s famous ‘lost’ village. In November 1943 notice was given to the villagers that they would be required to leave within 28 days as the area was needed for forces’ training.

The passing years have taken their toll. Only the church and the schoolhouse have survived. The names on the hooks and schoolwork on the tables give the impression that the kids had just run outdoors to play. Former villagers can still be buried at the graveyard.

Once a busy fishing village

Helen Taylor, 92, insisted she had no ill will against the soldiers 50 years after leaving the somber note on the door. “We went with good intentions, thinking we were helping the war effort,” she added.

The settlement is still part of the army’s Lulworth Ranges, but it is open to the public on most weekends and public holidays. This was supposed to be a temporary solution for the length of WWII, but the Army issued a compulsory purchase order for the land in 1948, and it has since been utilized for military training.

It’s hard to believe that this was once a very busy house

Despite being strewn with garbage used as targets and frequently shelled, the land has become a wildlife refuge due to a lack of agriculture and development. In response to tourist and local concerns, the Ministry of Defence began opening the hamlet and range pathways on weekends and during August 1975.

Many of the houses were the homes of the ‘staff’ of the big manor house. This house was the only house in the village that had running water.

The Elizabethan manor house was demolished in 1967 by the old Ministry of Works, but the church remains intact and has a stained-glass window by Martin Travers.

The church and schoolhouse have since been preserved as museums. Tyneham Farm reopened to the public in 2008, with conservation activities continuing to this day. Today, the town is still part of the Army Ranges, although it is available to the public on most weekends and holidays.

Because this location is on the Jurassic coast, there are some stunning rock formations and views across Worbarrow Bay.

Read More