Tyneham, the village that stopped in 1943, that is the saying that the locals say, it is also known as Dorset’s ‘lost’ village. In 1943, all villagers who lived in Tyneham were told to leave, on the 17th of December 1943 and the last resident left the village believing that they would one day return to the village. Until this day, not a single resident has returned to reside in the village. However, the village does see plenty of visitors, as many are interested to see such an interesting location.

The History of Tyneham

There have been several instances of evidence that the Romans occupied Tyneham and the valley around Tyneham, there have also been various fishing communities associated with it from the Iron Age. The village has a mention in the Domesday Book as Tigeham, which means “goat enclosure”. A century later, the village came to be known as Tinham and then later on Tyneham.

The village and 7,500 acres of the surrounding lad and the chalk downland around the Purbeck Hills were requisitioned just before Christmas 1942 by the War Office (now known as Ministry of Defence) for use as firing ranged. 225 people were forced to move out, the last person to leave left a note on the church’s 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.”

The displacement was only meant to be temporary for the duration of the war, however, in 1948, the army placed compulsory purchase orders on the land and so it has remained the property of the Ministry of Defence.

While the land around the village is littered with debris and is regularly used for shelling, there is a growing wildlife population due to it being free from farming and industry. After a lot of campaigning and complaints from the public, the Ministry of Defence opened up the village and the surrounding footpaths to the public. Many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair or have been damaged by shelling.

Where is Tyneham?

Tyneham can be found just northeast of Worbarrow Bay which forms part of the Jurassic Coast, it is about 3.7 miles (6 km) south of Wareham, and around 9.9 miles (15.9 km) west of Swanage. The village can be found within one the east to west valleys of Purbeck Hills. The following map, complete with the direction signs at the various junctions, should help you find your way to Tyneham.

Tyneham in Popular Culture

Tyneham was used for the filming of Comrades in 1985. During filming the church had a fiberglass tower and large additional gravestones added, while Post Office Row was fronted with fiberglass cottages. During the filming Tyneham’s original 1929 K1 Mark 236 telephone kiosk was destroyed and the film company sourced a replacement. The village was also the setting for the climax of Angel’s Share by Mike Ripley in 2006.