UK’s ‘lost village’ where cottages lie in ruins and residents are forbidden from returning

By Staff

Open to tourists at weekends, the empty village serves as a reminder of our past

The coastal village of Tyneham in Dorset has become known as the county’s ‘lost village’ having been evacuated during the Second World War.

Residents of the village were told to evacuate in December 1943, as the army took over the land so the area could be used for training recruits. When the war came to an end in 1945, Tyneham remained in the hands of the army, with its former residents unable to return.

Upon leaving the residents had pinned a note to the church, which read: “Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes, where many of us have lived for generations, to help win the war and keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.”

However, the residents were sadly forbidden from returning, despite campaigns for them to do so.

Now, 80 years later Tyneham remains part of the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Gunnery School, although it is open for tourists to visit on the weekend, with a number of the old buildings still standing.

Visitors to the village can stroll down ‘The Row’, a street of four terraced houses, now in ruins. You can enter the empty shells of these cottages, which now feature storyboards revealing the stories of those who lived in the properties.

Tourists will also spot the old telephone box, which was restored to its former glory in 2012 after the years of disuse had seen it taken over by plants.

Also still standing is the village school, which often contains exhibitions on the history of Tyneham prior to its evacuation.

The local church, St Mary’s sustained much less damage than other areas of the village, with the army maintaining the interior. However, by the 1990s the church was in dire need of restoration, with this being undertaken in the early 2000s, and being completed in 2003.

Tyneham Farm has also undergone restoration, with the barns and outbuildings no longer in ruins. The farm buildings are now another area used for exhibitions, while the outside has been transformed into a picnic area for visitors.

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