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Tyneham is a ghost village on the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset.
The village and 7,500 acres of surrounding heathland and chalk downland around the Purbeck Hills were requisitioned just before Christmas 1943 by the then War Office (now MoD) for use as firing ranges for training troops.
225 people were displaced and the last person leaving left a poignant 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.
The requisition was supposed to be temporary for the duration of World War II, but in 1948 the Army placed a compulsory purchase order on the land and it has remained in use for military training ever since.
Although littered with scrap used as targets and subject to regular shelling, the land has become a haven for wildlife as it has been free from farming and development.
In 1975 after complaints from tourists and locals, the Ministry of Defence began opening the village and footpaths across the ranges at weekends and throughout August. Many of the village buildings have fallen into disrepair or have been damaged by shelling and in 1967 the then Ministry of Works pulled down the Elizabethan manor house, though the church remains intact, and has a stained-glass window by Martin Travers.
The church and school house have since been preserved as museums and in 2008 Tyneham Farm was reopened to the public and conservation work there is ongoing.
In 1985 the village was used for the filming of Comrades, which depicts the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The church had a fibreglass tower and large additional gravestones, and Post Office Row was fronted with fibreglass 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 to the comic-thriller Angel’s Share by Mike Ripley (2006).
Today Tyneham is open to the public and can be visited most weekend throughout the year (see opening times below). There’s a large car park (£2 suggested donation), which is a good place to start when exploring the Jurassic Coast or walking to Worbarrow Bay.
Opening times 2020
The Lulworth range walks and Tyneham Village are open to the public most weekends when no firing is taking place.
- Tyneham school and Tyneham church exhibitions – 10am to 4pm
- Gates to the range walks – 9am on Saturday to 8am on Monday
- Elmes Grove gate (allows vehicle access to Tyneham Village) – daily 9am to dusk
In addition to weekends, Tyneham is also open every day for:
- Christmas – 21 December 2019 to 5 January 2020
- Easter – 4 to 19 April 2020
- May Day – 8 May 2020 (Friday)
- 25 to 31 May 2020
- Summer – 21 July to 31 August 2020
- Christmas – 19 December 2020 to 3 January 2021
These are the weekends when the Ranges, Range Walks and Tyneham Village will be closed to the public
- 22 to 23 February 2020
- 14 to 15 March 2020
- 13 to 14 June 2020
- 19 to 20 September 2020
- 3 to 4 October 2020
- 14 to 15 November 2020
Red flags are flown and lamps are lit during live firing times at the Lulworth Ranges. There is no access to the live firing range danger area at these times.
Firing times can change at the last minute. You can phone 01929 404819 to hear the latest firing times.
Updated: 3rd March 2020