Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
129Trip End Ongoing
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"In WWII, the British Army required a larger training area so they evacuated the occupants of the Tyneham Valley. In 1943, Winston Churchill's War Cabinet issued clearance notices to 106 properties in a 12 square mile area including Tyneham Village. They were given one month to leave. As their houses were the property of the Squire, most tenants were given only the value of the produce in their gardens as compensation.
At their departure, they pinned a note onto the church door which read, "Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes where many of us have lived for generations, to help win the war, to keep men free. We will return one day and thankyou for treating the village kindly." Despite their generosity, at the end of the war the government decided the area was quite useful to them and never returned the villagers to their homes. In 1952, Ralph Bond, the 'Last Squire of Tyneham' died, still bitterly unreconciled to the loss of Tyneham and deeply wounded by the government's shabby behaviour and broken promise to return Tyneham to him and its former inhabitants.
The villagers are now commemorated in the church exhibition with their names in the frieze tiles around the church and their photographs on the walls. Your tour of Tyneham will take you through the ruins of these picturesque remains; houses, public phone, church and museum. All in all, Tyneham is a unique but chilling experience."
Tyneham is indeed a very strange place, most of the village now lies in ruins - except for the church and the old school, which have both been renovated in recent years. Currently it is not commercialised at all, provided the ranges are open, you can just go there and see it - but there is a big board up listing various phases of development, to take place over the next few years - and both John and I could see that before long there will be charges to get in, cafes etc. and the crowds that come with this. There is a very touching letter displayed in one of the houses, from a man who was fighting in the war when he received news of the eviction - overall it was a very sobering experience.
After looking round the old farm and village we brew up a cup of coffee on our stove and sit in the sunshine enjoying the peace - it's so peaceful that we end up sitting there and chatting till eventually we figure we might as well stay there and have our soup and rolls, so we get the stove out, heat up the soup and have lunch - by the time we do this, the carpark has filled up around us and we're ready to move on anyway.
Next we go to Lulworth cove. I used to come here a lot as a kid with my parents and I was shocked by how much it had changed, last time I came it was just a small car park and a sleepy village with a pebbled cove at the bottom - now however, there is a huge visitor centre, cafes, ice cream outlets and a massive carpark - this of course comes with the obvious hoards of people. In all honesty it had become the sort of place that I avoid like the plague - yes I know that everyone has as much right to be there, but what was once a quiet beauty spot was now something quite, quite different. Nevertheless, we were there and we decided to put our boots on and go for another walk. We walk up the coastal path over to the next bay of Durdle Door. We find a spot where we can be alone and sit looking out to sea - I take some photos, then we dip into the rucksack for crisps and water and then lay on the clifftop generally drifting in and out of thoughts.
After a while we decide to head back over to Lulworth - by the time we get back, most of the vehicles have disappeared from around our car, so we get the stove out again, brew up a coffee and enjoy the remainder of the early evening sunshine.
The hot tub is free when we arrive back at the B&B, so we take the opportunity and spend some more time in there - just as relaxing and just as enjoyable as last night. Finally John's tummy starts to complain, so we get out, dried and dressed and stroll into town for some good old seaside fish and chips. We make another visit to the ice cream parlour - we both have mango with raspberry coulis and walk along the seafront, eventually making our way back to our room.