Off Limits: Tyneham House was home to the Bond Family who owned Tyneham for many generations. Since Tyneham was evacuated in 1943 Tyneham House has become a shell. It is strictly off limits.
Brief history of Tyneham House
- Tyneham House was built by Henry Williams between the years 1563 and 1583.
- It incorporated a mediaeval ‘Great Hall‘ believed to date from the 14th Century and known as the ‘Old House‘
- A north-west wing was added c.1590.
- The north-west wing was extended in the 17C to include a servants hall and additional bedrooms.
- The Bond Family purchased Tyneham House and estate in 1683.
- Substantial changes were made c.1820 to the whole section behind the rooms on the Elizabethan east-front and the mullioned windows on the east front were replaced with sash windows starting lower down
- A north porch was added in 1861
- A telephone was installed in 1935
- Tyneham House was requisitioned in 1941 as an administration centre for the radar station at RAF Brandy Bay and to accommodate the W.A.A.F.s working there.
- Tyneham House was requisitioned by compulsory purchase in 1952
- By 1968 parts of the house were dismembered and removed to other sites
- Even the mediaeval section was not immune from dismemberment, although it was afforded some ‘protection‘ in the form of a corrugated-iron roof
- Originally the ‘Great Hall‘ built in 14C by the Russell Family
- Sub-divided c.1567 to include fireplace with brick oven and chimney stack
- Floor later inserted dividing building into two storeys, winding stone staircase added and upper windows inserted
- Mediaeval lintel and stone door surround ripped out c.1968
- Stone roof tiles removed c.1975 as weight considered too heavy for mediaeval roof trusses and replaced by corrugated-iron roof
The demise of Tyneham House
- Lilian Bond‘s account makes clear some damage was caused by the WAAFs and RAF including destruction of drains which caused the cellar to flood.
- Sir Arthur Bryant, the Tory historian, visited the house in 1949 and commented ‘its stone roof was overgrown with creepers and brambles’ and ‘a few more years of the present neglect and nothing will remain’.
- John Gale of The Observer visited Tyneham House in 1952 and commented that its windows were ‘grotesquely blindfolded with sheets of black corrugated iron’ and that the garden had ‘run wild amid barbed wire’.
- Apparently an architect reported to the Ancient Monuments Commission in 1958 that the internal construction was beyond repair and that reconstruction would cost £30,000.
- In 1966 a MOD spokesman informed writer Michael Frenchman that although the house had never been adopted as a target, they were discussing the possibility of pulling it down. The windows were still securely boarded, but it was uncertain whether this was to keep vandals out or to stop people seeing the havoc wrought by shell fire and delay. Thieves had been able to steal the lead from the roof and the rot had set in a long time ago.
- By 1968 The Times reported the MOD was in the process of completing the dismemberment of Tyneham House.
- Tyneham House is just one of 2,000 of England’s lost country houses – see complete list.
- The steps from Tyneham House were removed to Bingham’s Melcombe, a private house and estate not open to the public.
- The north porch doorway stone surround from Tyneham House now stands proudly at the head of ‘The Canal’ at Athelhampton House.
- Oak panelling and a mantel piece from a bedroom were moved to the Dorset County Museum, now the Dorset Museum.
Location of Tyneham House
What Three Words location for 1583 east porch of Tyneham House = intervene.unstable.singles (switch to satellite view)
Extract from 1908 publication, courtesy of Pete Ross:
General – The present house, which is certainly the finest example extant of the sixteenth century manor houses of the Isle of Purbeck, was built by Henry Williams between the years 1563 and 1583. The later date is given on the porch, and Hutchins records the fact that about the year 1820 a doorway, leading to a spiral staircase, was destroyed, in the spandrels of which were the initials H.W. and the date 1567.
The house is built of Purbeck stone, which has been quarried on the estate, and is roofed with local stone tilestones.
The roof was an open one with arch-shaped struts to the rafters, the lower order of which were ornamented with a cusped pattern. Mr. Thomas Bond, in his article in the Purbeck Society Papers on the Ancient manor Houses of Purbeck, states that “Its date has been assigned by an ‘experienced antiquary and professional architect in the time of Edward III., but I am inclined rather to place it late in the following century.” He then goes on to consider the historical side of the question, but makes no deduction from it.
As far as the very battered remains are concerned either date may be equally correct, such distinctive features as it had have long since vanished: on considering the families to which the house belonged the probability seems to be that any extensive rebuilding would be done by the Russells, as we know they were a much wealthier family than the Chicks, who would have done the work were Mr. Bond’s surmise correct.
In one of the outbuildings there is a fine oak roof, or rather the remains of one, in situ; the probability is that this is the position of the ancient hall. Access to it is obtained through a late fifteenth century door, much defaced.
Exterior – The main front of the present house faces east. It is perfectly plain ashlar work, three floors high, the top one of which is lighted by three dormer windows, formed by carrying the wall up and finishing with small gables.
In the centre of this front there is the old porch, over the door of which is the date 1583. This is illustrated, as also is this side of the house.
The porch has a simple round arched opening with the usual architrave. There are two somewhat meaningless consoles, one on each side supporting a pilaster strip panelled on the face, the whole is crowned by a small entablature and cornice. The shield bearing the date is in the typanum, and in the angles of the two spandrels are two shields bearing the arms of Bond (ancient) and Bond (of Cornwall) on the dexter and sinister sides respectively. The jambs are relieved by a chamfer wave mold, capped by a plain ovolo with a necking below. This molding is, however brought out square and overhangs the angles to the amount of the chamfer.
The jamb mold stops on a small bead which is somewhat curiously cut, and beneath it gradually curves out until it dies into the square faces, and on to a chamfer at the angles.
Internally the arch and jamb are molded with the wave on the chamfer.
The carelessness of the workmen of the period is well shewn by the fact that, on the left hand side, the console cannot rest its entire width on the impost.
The lower windows were formerly glazed in three lights with mullions, similar to those above, and a transom, but these were removed about 1820 by the grandfather of the present owner, and sash windows inserted. In making the windows lower to accommodate the sashes the heavy molding on the plinth appears to have been a difficulty, but this was eventually overcome by breaking the molding round below each window. The effect is curious.
The other sides of the buildings are similar in design, but not the dormer windows. The ends of the blocks are finished with gables.
Internally – The interior suffered considerably from “modernisation” in the early part of the eighteenth century, but in one of the bedrooms a fine specimen of an early seventeenth century carved oak overmantel and chimney-piece survived. An illustration is given of this. The small shields shown on the frieze were inserted in recent times, they represent
i. Bond (ancient) imp. Lawrence.
ii. Bond (ancient) quarterly with Bond of Cornwall.
iii. Bond (ancient) imp. Williams, reading from the dexter side.
The shields are planted on to acanthus leaf console brackets, and do not look as incongruous as might be expected, as by their tinctures they supply a pleasant touch of colour. Between these brackets the frieze is ornamented with a strapwork design, of the usual type, with a volute motif.
The brackets are carried on pilaster strip, the faces of which are ornamented with another form of acanthus set in a strapwork frame; the panels between have a curious ornament, in low relief, with a lion’s face in the centre and a debased acanthus leaf at the corners.
Below this a horizontal molding, enriched with another acanthus, is carried across the whole width; it has a rounded upper member separated from a cynia recta by a slight projection and a flat fillet. This serves to divide the overmantel from the mantelpiece.
The vertical lines of the design are again emphasised in the lower part by console brackets similar to those described in the frieze, which are carried on fluted shafts of a Roman Doric type, the ovolo of which has an egg and tongue enrichment.
Between the lower consoles the panels have a somewhat elaborate strapwork design with rather crudely carved faces worked into it.
The ornament as a whole is bolder and in higher relief than in the usual work of the period, but, although it must have looked very well originally, the varnish with which the whole has been covered has destroyed its sharpness.
In the room there is also a carved frieze of about the same date. There is a considerable amount of panelling left in the house, but it has all been pained. Most of it is made up with the large panels beloved of the eighteenth century, but there are some remains of older work.
Page last updated: 5 July 2021
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