Nestling in the valley below Whiteway Hill,
There stands a village where time’s been standing still.
The villagers of Tyneham, they very well remember
The year of ’43 and that bitterly cold November.
The villagers went about their usual daily chores,
Oblivious to letters which headed to their doors.
To sell their homes, the folk found they had zero choice;
Against the government War Office, folk had zero voice.
The land, it was purchased for British Army training.
Within a single month, not a soul was left remaining.
Upon the church door, there was pinned a note -
Here is the gist of what somebody wrote:
‘Please treat the houses and church with due care.
A flattened village, us folk really couldn’t bear.
We’re all really hoping to return home one day.
Please look after our village while we are away.’
The last folk left their homes prior to Christmas ‘43 –
They’d hoped to return, but sadly that wasn’t to be.
With the enemy so near, some folk were relieved,
But, for their little village, many people grieved.
Over two hundred folk found themselves displaced.
Of life in the village, there’s now such little trace.
The ravages of time have surely taken their toll;
Memories of residents, the village still beholds.
The church and the school, they still stand intact,
But, against the little houses, the odds were sadly stacked.
Upon school peg hooks, there are still pupils’ names,
And their work upon the desktops to this day remains.
In this small rural village on Dorset’s Jurassic coast,
There now only remains aged spirits and ghosts.
For the war effort, Tyneham played its part.
For our great nation, Tyneham gave its heart.
Sometimes my mind strays alone in the valley
Watching the sunshine dappling through the ageless trees.
The sweet, clear stream trickles on to the coastline
Adding its own music to the humming of the bees.
Then I can wander through the skeletal cottages,
Which once were homes with life within their walls.
A rusting copper nestles in a barren outhouse,
While through the open eaves the pigeon calls.
The whole row of houses stand guard to their village,
Eerily, silently holding their own.
Despite being abandoned, bombed and derelict
A sense of long ago life still abounds.
Within the church take time to linger,
Where names and faces come quickly to life.
Yet in the churchyard those very same names
Are carved in the gravestones, both man and wife.
Climb up the hillside and look down at the village.
Beautiful, quiet, unspoilt it lies
Within the deep valley, cutting down to the fields
To the stark coastline where the waves heave and sigh.
There are very few places that my heart would linger,
And fewer places still that my soul would rest,
But with Tyneham I've found my own little paradise,
And I could settle for nothing less.
And blue joins seamlessly with blue,
A building graveyard slumbers.
Stream running clear to nowhere.
Step to the schoolhouse-
Step, stop and listen.
Dust motes of memory.
The church bell rings, calls
do not forget us,
do not let our sacrifice go
unnoticed and unattended.
Wild flowers catch our eye,
nodding wisely in the breezes.
“Each year we wither and yet return,
our roots clinging deep to the land.”
So too, the memories clinging here
live once more through travellers' eyes
and we walk away, hushed and aware.
by Steph Gassor
The Tale of Tyneham
by Angela Wybrow
by Fiona Fulton