Parish Clerks Network

Past Events: 2003

60th Anniversary Carol Concert

21 December 2003

Dorset Echo, Monday 22 December 2003

Return to Tyneham's refurbished church

SIXTY years after being evacuated from the Dorset village of Tyneham, a group of villagers returned to their former home for an emotional reunion.

Around a dozen former residents shared their memories of village life and the shock of evacuation, as the military took over the site, at a special carol service at the newly refurbished Tyneham Church.

They were invited back to see extensive refurbishment in the church to reflect its unique history.

Swanage-based artist Lynda Price created the display, which features a row of coloured hand-made tiles spelling out the surnames of all the members of the once-thriving community.

And oak-panelled boards depict pictures of community life between 1900 and 1943, explained with quotes and memories from former residents.

Former resident Douglas Churchill said it was emotional to be back in Tyneham.

"I was 15 when I left here and it's unbelievable to be back," he said. "To come up the church steps again after 60 years is incredible."

And Maj Gen Mark Bond said: "I come back quite often but this is a big turnout. I can't believe it was 60 years ago that we were evacuated."

Freddy Stickland, 86, moved to Plymouth after his family were evacuated and travelled back for the service. "It's lovely to be back," he said.

Lynda Price said she was pleased with the residents' reaction to her two-year labour of love. "The research was the hardest part," she said. "And I'm sure that now it's finished, it will inspire even more residents to get in touch.

"I wanted to bring colour to the church but the most important thing was always that the display had to be sympathetic to its surroundings. That's why I've used hand-made tiles, oak panelling and wrought iron.

"I'm pleased with the general effect and I feel now that the church has come to life again."


Back to Past Events index

Former residents of Tyneham gather after the 60th Anniversary Carol Service

Can you help us put names to the faces?

Arthur Grant