About 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 WWII effort was reaching a crucial stage, the War Office (now Ministry of Defence) requisitioned Tyneham so that the army could prepare for D-Day, seven months away. 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’.
While it’s still an active MoD site and part of the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Gunnery School at Lulworth Ranges, visitors are permitted on 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.