“The Village that Died for England”

Tyneham is a ghost village in south Dorset, England. The village was temporarily commandeered just before Christmas 1943 by the War Office for use as firing ranges for training troops. 252 people were displaced, the last person leaving a notice on the church door:

“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.”

In 1948 the village was compulsorily purchased by the War Office and the villagers never returned.


All pictures by Ken.
Title taken from The Village that Died For England by Patrick Wright.

If you like this, try:

15 comments to “The Village that Died for England”

  • Steve

    cf Imber, Wiltshire.

  • Corinne Mackenzie

    Thank you so much for putting these images up. I was reading about the village in the 20th Century Society magazine over breakfast this morning and thought I’d look into it further! The photos are beautiful.

  • My pleasure, Corinne. Yes, Ken took a wonderful set of pictures.

  • Yaffle

    Interesting. What’s its current status, does anyone know? Can you go & poke around?

  • Nicky

    Lovely photos - I visited Tyneham last year and it made the hairs on the the back of my neck stand up. It’s like the village is preserved in amber. I remember being very moved by the beauty of the place and equally very angry that a community could be treated in this way. Because the inhabitants were tenants, not land-owners, they were only compensated up to the value of the crops growing in their gardens.

  • You can indeed, Gavin. Here’s the details.

  • Andrew

    As you’ll know if you’ve read Wright’s book, the description of life in Tyneham as “idyllic” on that website is questionable (my father grew up in a similar village at the other end of Purbeck, and never had any time for people with romantic ideas about working-class life in the country). It is a beautiful spot, though - both the village and the surrounding coastline.

  • Tim Marshall

    Interesting from the air.


  • Amy Adams

    The little cardigan on Arthur’s hook, still there. What a shock. To think a little thing, carelessly forgotten, could still be there…

  • Ian

    I recently returned from California where I visitied Bodie, a popular mining ghost town. I had no idea one existed on my doorstep, relatively speaking. I’m going to visit and take a load of black and whites, in true retronaut style. I’ll send you the results.

  • Excellent, and I shall look forward to seeing them, Ian.

  • Andrew

    The cardigan is a recent addition - the school has been restored to look more or less as it would have done before the war. The church has been kept in good shape, but while I don’t think the army was allowed to bombard the village no maintenance was done on the other buildings, even to the extent of keeping the roofs watertight.

  • Glamour Daze

    What a terrible thing it must have been to be moved out of such a charming little place.

  • Ben

    I live not far from Tyneham and pop down for a walk every year at some point.
    Wouldn’t say it’s preserved in amber - it’s right in the middle of an artillery firing range and suffers from over-crowded summers and bitterly cold winters.
    It is, however, a fascinating place -some time spent in the church and school, then looking ’round the graveyard gives you such an insight into the families that lived there.
    But then, I feel that Dorset has such a rich social history anyway, perhaps I’m just too spoilt to appreciate the place much more than some old MOD land?…

  • bobnudd

    What a sensationalist book title. It wasn’t the only village “that died for England”

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>