Tigeham, which means “goat enclosure,” is listed in the Domesday Book. After a century, the village was known as Tiham, and only subsequently as Tyneham.
St Mary’s limestone church originates from the 13th century. It has been nearly 73 years since the villagers of Tyneham, Dorset, fled their houses during WWII. All photos by Simon Templar.
In 1943, Tyneham village and surrounding hamlets were evacuated to allow Allied soldiers to train for the D-Day invasion. Helen Taylor was the final resident to depart, and she left a heartfelt message on the church door that said, “Please handle the church and dwellings 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.”
The villagers were given notice in November 1943 that they would be obliged to depart within 28 days because the region was needed for army training. The final inhabitants fled on December 17, 1943, expecting that they would be able to return one day. Unfortunately, this was never to happen.
Helen Taylor, aged 92, claimed she had no ill will against the army 50 years after posting the sorrowful message on the door. “We went with goodwill, thinking we were contributing to the war effort,” she explained.
The village is still part of the army’s Lulworth Ranges today, but members of the public can visit it on most weekends and public holidays. This was meant to be a temporary solution for the duration of World War II, but in 1948 the Army issued a compulsory purchase order for the property, and it has since been used for military training.