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The Lost Village

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

The last few months have been very difficult for all of us, and something that we have never experienced before, but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel and we can emerge in a covid 19 free world.

However, spare a thought for those poor souls who were evicted from their homes six days before Christmas 1943 and never to return to their idyllic village where life was so simple.

This video is of a family’s time in this Dorset coastal village before they were forced to leave.

In November 1943 notice was given to the small population of the village and it's surrounds that they would be required to leave. We have a figure of 252 people from 102 properties in the "Parish of Tyneham", ie., an area that was more than the village.

Leaving before Christmas, they did however leave behind them what is now a famous notice pinned to the door of the church. It reads: '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.'

The church organ and bells were removed to Steeple and other artefacts elsewhere. The theory was that the village would be returned to the people after the war - it did not happen and in 1948 it received a compulsory purchase order from the army. One of the ironies that is very apparent when visiting is the telephone box sitting in front of the post office - it was installed a few weeks before the evacuation.

Another is the story of Mark Bond who expected to grow up and inherit the manor house. Born in 1922 at Chideock he moved to Tyneham with his father in 1937 after his grandfather's death in 1935. The two-year gap is apparently because the house had to be let out for a short while to pay death duties. Mark left Eton in 1940 and joined the rifle brigade. He saw much service and was wounded, captured and re-captured, seeing his wartime out in a German POW camp. Having taken his place in our armed forces and given King & Country 20 years of his life and leaving as a general, he was only told in 1951 the house was not his to have. That information being kept from him for reasons of secrecy.

That was the end for the village, which was already in poor condition and getting worse over the years, never to be occupied again. It makes for a very sad place. The church has been repaired and is effectively a museum; the schoolhouse was turned into a museum anyway. Because the tank ranges are still used, the times for visiting are limited to holidays and weekends. There is now a car park especially to take the influx of visitors.

Lets take a look at the 'army factor' in the story line. The First World War brought great tank activity and subsequently activity at Bovington Camp. With that went the need to practice and eventually a gunnery range came into use east of Lulworth. Come the Second World War all public access was barred. Improving weapons meant larger areas were needed to test on so Worbarrow, Tyneham and thereabouts was taken on after the war the War Office compulsorily purchased the area.

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