St Mary’s, Tyneham
Number of views as of 3rd July 2015 = 600.
Parts of St. Mary’s Church, Tyneham (Dorset, England) date from the 13th century, whilst the south transept was rebuilt in the mid-19th century.
Tyneham is no ordinary village however. It was evacuated in 1943 to make room for the expansion of the gunnery ranges attached to the Royal Armoured Corps Gunnery School based at nearby Lulworth Camp.
The village is still uninhabited, although regularly open to the public when the firing ranges are not in use.
After the military take-over in 1943, the church building (along with most other buildings in the village) suffered from neglect (or worse), and some of its artefacts were removed for safe-keeping elsewhere, including the organ, bells and pulpit.
Thankfully, the church is now maintained by the military authorities and has become the site of a permanent exhibition giving information on the history of the Tyneham valley and local geology and wildlife habitats.
Developments of the last 66 years have largely passed the village by, and consequently you get a real sense of stepping back in time whilst exploring the ruined cottages and other buildings.
What of Tyneham’s future? If the army does ever relinquish its claim on the land, perhaps the best hope for the village would be for the National Trust or English Heritage to step in and restore it to its pre-war condition.
It must have been a beautiful (if somewhat remote) place to live and it’s not difficult to understand why some of the families who had to leave wanted to return on a permanent basis.
Date: 24th May 2009.