Tyneham - A Special Place
We discovered the deserted village of Tyneham in Dorset many years ago and it remains one of our much loved places to visit from time to time.
Set in a valley which leads down to Worbarrow Bay on the wonderful Dorset Jurassic coast, the valley and village was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence in 1943 during World War II to use for training for the D Day landings. The sheltered sweep of the bay served as a perfect place to practice the beach landings and the villagers were promised they could return to their homes after the war. It never happened and remains a poignant reminder of those who gave up their much loved homes, church and little school for the greater good of winning the peace for all of us. We owe them much.
The valley and village remain in the hands of the MOD for army training with public access allowed for a certain number of days a year. However, out of a sad story of a deserted village comes the beauty of seeing untouched woodland which in early spring time is full of the scent of wild garlic and later becomes filled with bluebells. Birdsong is everywhere and the sound of silence if you find yourself the only visitor there is wonderful.
An agricultural barn, outbuildings and old stables near the deserted village have been restored and volunteers have created a delightful garden in a corner of the farmyard just paces away from where old shells and weapons are displayed. Old farmyard pots and containers have been used to plant flowers and herbs and the volunteers have thoughtfully hung the names of plants on little slate tags beside them for visitors to see.
As the villagers left their homes they pinned a notice on the church door (a copy of it still seen there today) 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 to keep men free. We will return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.”
They were never able to return but I like to think that the promise has been kept to treat their village kindly.