Postcards from my Past / 4 Tyneham

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I saw Tyneham – mid teens or late teens, perhaps.  We would have been staying in the area, and were on one of pater’s walks.  I remember we were going to the coast, but “there’s an old deserted village on the way near here” said my father, so of course that had me interested, and off we went. The village had been commandeered by the army during the war for training allied troops – so all the villagers had to leave. And unfortunately they were never able to return. I recall it as being quite eerie, a long way off the beaten track, in it’s little valley. And I don’t recall seeing anyone else there. Now, it’s a tourist attraction, and that early mystery I felt is no longer there.

I do, however, remember being somewhat disappointed all those years ago because what was left wasn’t quite substantial enough for my liking….but it definitely mysterious. We were there in the late afternoon, and there was a palpable air of sadness.


Tyneham Rectory circa 1991

Unknown ruin, Tyneham

These images shown here I took probably a decade after that first visit, and I have since returned a couple of times, but there is very little left of most buildings. Certainly that second building I have never seen again, and the rectory is now off limits.

The old manor house could have been worth a look back then, but we didn’t happen on it at the time, and maybe it would have been impossible to find. Admittedly, there is not much left as the army set about demolishing it in the late 1960s, and what remains is hidden away in woods and off-limits to the public.



  1. Eerie, indeed. If walls could speak.

  2. Oh, yes, the stories would be amazing.


  3. We had several holidays in Dorset, but this is obviously one place my parents decided not to take us to. Such a shame as it looks like a perfect place for three children to run wild in 😀

  4. You were lucky indeed. Your father nurtured your love of desertion and decay. Most enjoyable.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. A fascinating postcard Sue. I had never heard of the place.

    • Sue

      See my response to Jude! Oh, and something I never mentioned…as it’s still on army ranges, it’s only open a few days per year.

  6. Emilio Pasquale

    How sad that it has been destroyed. I would love to have come across it one day.

  7. So commonly I’d love to go back to places I’ve been in my youth, with my camera and take photos. But it’s never the same.

  8. Fascinating Sue – and yes, so sad. But I love that you dad took you for walks. Even if he wasn’t as obsessed, he was interested enough to engender YOUR obsession!! Loved the photos and the story

    • Sue

      My parents both loved to walk…and the places I was interested in weren’t the focus of the walk, for them, as they would be for me! But still, I got to see places

  9. Love places like that, cool shots Sue.

  10. How sad for the people, first having their homes taken over and then destroyed!

  11. Sad! I really like the first shot but it’s the tree more than the ruin. 🙂

  12. I can definitely see the appeal this ghost village used to have especially if one is a young teenager. That tree trunk looks perfect for climbing too. It is sad going back to it again, to see more of it disappear every time.

  13. Seems more fascinating than eerie to me. Love the opening shot.

  14. Curse people! They interfere with so much. And yet you’re the woman who induced me to introduce figures into my landscapes.

    Places of forced abandonment are always especially sad. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be evacuated from Potato Point with no chance of returning. My imagination about such loss is being trained as I read “Chernobyl prayer” and hear the voices of the villagers who were forced to leave there.

    “There’s an old deserted village on the way near here” said my father: this makes a great refrain in your tales from the past.

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