I was in Dorset over the weekend visiting friends, and while we were exploring Tyneham village we stumbled across the mixed media exhibition by Donna Vale. Donna’s work is inspired by, as well as being located within, the abandoned village.
The story of Tyneham village is a sad one… just before Christmas in 1943 the War Office commandeered the site for firing ranges for the troops. 225 people had been living in the village and had to temporarily find somewhere else to live. Many left with only the essentials, thinking they would be back at some point after WWII concluded. However, in 1948 the village and surrounding land was permanently obtained by the Army and has been used as a training ground ever since. Following feedback from tourists and locals alike, this haunting site has been open to the public during weekends since 1975.
The church within the village dates from the 13th century, and artefacts have been found to show there was Roman occupation on this site. The people of Tyneham did a selfless thing, giving up their homes to further the war effort, in true belief that it was a temporary arrangement and that they would return. This sentiment is summed up succinctly in the note that was left on the church door, for whoever came next…
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.