The Village That Died For D-Day

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Space for greenhouse

This morning, Aaron and Sean cleared space for the anticipated greenhouse. Holly and Bay trees were cut back and Jackie’s old work corner dismantled.

Jackie contemplating space for greenhouse

The sun danced over Jackie’s head as she contemplated the opening.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Tyneham in Dorset and back.

Now uninhabited for the last 73 years, Tyneham was a thriving village from a previous age, until the villagers were ordered to leave their homes as part of the war effort in 1943. They were never allowed back. Today the remnants of this community were swarming with visitors.

Tyneham Century of Change

The story of its century of change is fixed to a wall near the telephone box. All will become clear when this photograph is enlarged.

Tyneham Village 1

The Tyneham Phone Box story

The replaced telephone box bears it own story,

Post Office

as does the shell of the Post Office.

Tyneham Village 3

Most of the buildings are now ruined husks

Fireplace

revealing such as fireplaces,

Window frames

Through a window

and vacant windows fitted with stout wooden supports.

Tyneham Village 2

Exceptions are the school and the church. Jackie waits for me in the shadows outside

Schoolroom 1

the schoolroom where there is a permanent exhibition. Here are the children’s desks.

Teacher's desk 1Teacher's desk 2

The teacher’s faces down the classroom. Note the cane.

Sovereigns on wall

Queen Victoria and King George V hang on the wall.

School photo 1912

The school photograph from 1912 features, third from right on the front row, Fred Knight.

Coat hangers 1Coat hook names 2

We met a man who had worked with this former pupil some twenty years ago. Apparently, after Fred’s wife died, he often returned to the village to sit and think. In the second of these rows of coat hooks, young Frederick’s coat hanger is clearly labelled.

Churchyard from schoolroom

Did this lad and his classmates gaze through the schoolroom window and contemplate where they may be laid to rest one day? If so, this was not to be.

Grant grave

One gentleman who had grown up in Tyneham did come back to be buried there in 2010, to be joined by his wife five years later.

Hillside beyond church

Man and dog outside church

Beyond the churchyard, as from anywhere else in the village, can be seen the Purbeck Hills.

Welcome to Tyneham Church

The Century of Change board pictured above tells us that it is Evelyn Bond who pinned the notice to the church door on the day the village died.

Piscina 2

Priests first washed their hands in the piscina behind the font more than 700 years ago.

Dog tethered

With their own little dog straining at the leash, a couple ascended the slope beyond this tethered collie

Silhouettes

which was unperturbed as they loomed into silhouette.

Military Firing Range

Beyond the Military Firing Range on Povington Hill

Povington Hill view 1Povington Hill view 2Povington Hill view 3Povington Hillk view 4

we can see how close the sea is to the low-lying village. If you examine these pictures carefully, you should be able to distinguish between hay bales and sheep in the fields.

As we approached Wareham on our return journey it became apparent that  the road home was very busy. There was therefore only one course of action.

Rajpoot and King's Arms

We turned off into this very attractive town and sought out The Rajpoot Indian restaurant. It was not yet open, so we dropped intoThe King’s Arms next door for drinks. The restaurant itself was first class. I enjoyed king prawn naga, as Jackie did her chicken shashlick. We shared the chef’s secret spice rice, an egg paratha, and an onion bahji. We drank small bottles of Kingfisher.

 

Wimbledon College As I Knew It

After our day in the sun, we are now in the grip of storm Gertrude. And they have only been given names in alphabetical order since the beginning of the year. Winds approach 50 m.p.h.

Owls

We have had no snow, so quite how a pair of snow-owls came to be on their perch in the garden, I don’t know. Anyway, they are thawing out.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton to look at a jacket I had ordered from Fagan’s. It wasn’t big enough, so we ordered a carpet instead.

Over the Christmas holiday period the library has become rather a dumping ground. Today we set about regaining the space for books and contemplation. This took some time, and prompted a certain amount of reorganisation. In the process, I discovered two postcards relating to our schooldays that were in a pile of Chris’s books that Frances had passed on to me.

The school which I and my two brothers had, between us, attended from 1953 to 1978 stands on a site where in 1860 John Brackenbury had purchased two large meadows below the Ridgway known as Tree and Boggy Fields. Brackenbury had helped to run Nelson House School, in Eagle House, Wimbledon High Street. His success there was such that in 1859 he took out a mortgage on the land below the Ridgway and founded the Anglican Preparatory Military Academy in 1860, also known as Brackenbury’s. The grounds of this college were so attractive that the school was opened to the public once a week.

In 1892 the buildings of the Anglican Preparatory Military Academy were purchased by the Jesuits and reopened as Wimbledon College which had existed on other sites earlier that year.

Wimbledon College

One of Chris’s postcards is of the very first pupils’ school photograph. Note the heavy leather rugby ball, such as we still used in the 1950s. Should any of my readers have antecedents likely to be present in this picture from 1893, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Wimbledon College

The other is of the splendid Victorian building I knew. The grounds seen in this photograph are just part of the sublime setting in which I was fortunate enough to spend my grammar school years.  During the summer holidays in 1977 the main college hall burned down. It is not clear what caused the fire, but the kitchens were located in the basement of the hall and it was supposed that the fire started there. Many a time I sat at the refectory tables in that hall, lobbing bits of food at other unruly juvenile diners under the eyes of the Catholic martyrs of the reformation, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher. Patrick Reid, the famous Old Boy who escaped from Colditz Castle in World War II, also looked down on us. I wonder whether their portraits survived the fire.

Extensive renovation and new building has since been undertaken.

Aubergin 'Al Funghetto'

Hello Fresh is an organisation that sends to our homes the ingredients and recipes for making exceedingly good meals. Jessica and Imogen sent us a week’s subscription for Christmas. This consisted of the wherewithal for three meals for two. Because we had such a houseful Jackie froze these goodies. Today we sampled the first. This was Aubergine ‘Al Funghetto’ with Grilled Butterflied Chicken. Containing supplied chicken breasts , aubergine, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes (these didn’t freeze so we replaced them’, flat leaf parsley, garlic, lemon , and chilli flakes, was absolutely delicious. Jackie is retaining the recipe card. Profiteroles was to follow. I finished the chianti and The Cook drank her customary Hoegaarden.

Well done the grandchildren.