About Tyneham Village
Tyneham Village in Dorset was temporarily evacuated in 1943 during the height of World War Two so the army could prepare for D-Day, but its residents never returned and it is now a ghost village.
History of Tyneham Village
Dating back to the Iron Age, the village of Tyneham was noted in the Domesday Book as Tigeham, or ‘goat enclosure’. For all intents and purposes, the sleepy, isolated seaside village in Dorset is just like any other on the south coast. It sits on the Jurassic Coast between Weymouth and Swanage and attracts lots of visitors every year but unlike many of England’s quaint coastal communities it has a rather macabre past.
Just before Christmas 1943 as the Allied World War Two effort was reaching a crucial stage, the War Office (now Ministry of Defence) requisitioned Tyneham so that the army could prepare for D-Day, 7 months away, by using the land as firing ranges for training troops. The village was temporarily evacuated and all of the 225 residents – mainly fisherman and farmers and their families – were given 30 days to leave.
They had no idea at the time, but they were never to return.
The last person to go left an eerily chilling note on the door of the church:
‘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’.
After the war, in 1948 the Army placed a compulsory purchase order on the land – the villagers were not allowed to return and it has remained in use for military training ever since.
Tyneham Village today
While it’s still an active Ministry of Defence site and part of the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Gunnery School at Lulworth Ranges, visitors are permitted approximately 150 days a year and the church and school have exhibitions about the village and villagers. A lot of the buildings are in various states of disrepair and to this day Tyneham remains a ghost town, albeit a fascinating and rare time capsule of a village frozen in 1943.
Getting to Tyneham Village
The village is a 1 mile walk (about 20 minutes) from Worbarrow Bay – part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The Village, Worbarrow Bay and Lulworth Ranges are managed by the Ministry of Defence and therefore Tyneham is only accessible when the Lulworth Ranges are open to the public, i.e. when no live firing is taking place!
By car, take the A35, then A351 towards Swanage. Just after Wareham turn right and follow signs to Creech/Kimmeridge, then Tyneham. The nearest train station is at Wool (on the London Waterloo to Weymouth line).
A comprehensive list of World War One sites, battlefields, monuments and museums, from the Somme to the Menin Gate and more, includes interactive map of WW1 sites.