1968: Dorset manor house being given away

By Rita Marshall

The Ministry of Defence has been giving away some of the last surviving parts of the derelict fourteenth-century Tyneham manor house, which for the past 25 years has been on the Lulworth artillery range, Dorset.

Brigadier Martin (Mark sic) Bond, the head of a family that had lived in the house for nearly 500 years, is serving in west Germany. “This is the end of a long, sad and rather disgraceful story”, he told me from Osnabrück, “I feel pretty sour.”

The Bond family, villagers and farmers from the Tyneham valley, were evacuated in 1943. In 1952, after disputes, the war Office compulsorily acquired the house.

Wartime sacrifice

Since 1943 it has been deteriorating. Now, what vandals, weather, neglect and ricochet bullets have left, has been given away to owners of other manor houses and museums.

Brigadier Bond said: “In 1943 when the whole valley was evacuated we accepted it as a wartime sacrifice. It was implied to us all, although not in writing, that it would be all right to go back when the emergency was over.

“Some months ago the Ministry of defence land offices wrote to tell me of proposals to give away some of the pieces of the house that were left. I replied slightly angrily that that was the affair of the Ministry. I no longer had any authority over the house. On that sour note the correspondence ended.”

The Ministry of Defence’s gift has been, for at least two men, a costly business.

Lord Southborough, in his house, Bingham’s Melcombe, near Dorchester, has a stone doorway of the fourteenth or fifteenth century and a porch, dated 1583, from Tyneham.

“I have these pieces because the Royal Commission on  Historical Monuments was getting very concerned about the state of this house in the middle of the artillery range”, he said.

“It makes you want to weep to see an old house in this state. It has cost me four figures to remove, transport, and absorb these pieces into my house, but I regard it as a patriotic act.”

Mr. Robert Cooke, M.P. for Bristol, West, of Athelhampton Hall, Dorset, has stone facing blocks from Tyneham. He told the royal commission that he could not see how to accommodate part of the fourteenth-century Tyneham in his own fifteenth-sixteenth-century home. Eventually he agreed to incorporate some of the stone in works at the rear, which are Victorian in origin and not in keeping with their surroundings. Bringing the stones from Tyneham was costly, he said.

The royal commission said parts of Tyneham had gone to other homes. The National Trust had some stone roofing material which it was keeping until needed.

When it became known that parts of Tyneham were being given away there was local concern. The south-east Dorset area planning subcommittee, who were asked to keep an eye on the house before it was taken over by the Army, called for a report from the Ministry of Public Building and Works.

‘With regret’

The Ministry sent details of the steady deterioration of the property which the planning committee “noted with regret”. The Ministry said that any thought of restoring the house was out of the question. ”There is no public access to the house, it has been falling very steadily into a derelict state. It was thought that to give away the remaining pieces was the right thing to do. The Bond family were consulted and had no objection.”

Brigadier Bond said: “I am very grateful to these public-spirited people who have taken some of the pieces. At least something of Tyneham will be preserved.”

Published by The Times, Tuesday 9 April 1968

1936 – Tyneham Rectory Roof / Garden Fete


The raising of funds towards meeting the cost of urgently-necessary repairs to the roof of the Rectory, the residence of the Rev. and Mrs. G. Clifford Frend, was the primary object of a fete held on Wednesday in the charming grounds of Tyneham House, which had been lent by Dr. and Mrs. Sauer. Part of the proceeds are also to be devoted towards the expenses incurred in conveying members of the Tyneham Women’s Institute from outlying hamlets to meetings.

The roof of the Rectory is in a very dilapidated condition and far from watertight, and although the rector and Mrs. Frend spent a good deal of money on it when they came into residence in the hope of avoiding further trouble, it was found advisable to call in an architect. The lowest estimate obtained for the work was £735, but with a new scheme the cost has been reduced to £550. Towards this sum promises amounting to about £400 have been received including generous subscriptions from the patron of the living, Mr. John W. G. Bond, C.B., and diocesan funds. The district embraced by the Women’s Institute, which owes its inception to Mrs. Frend, who is the present president, is such a large and scattered one, including Kimmeridge, Steeple, Povington, and Creech Grange, that to enable members to get to meetings in the hut at Tyneham a ‘bus and usually two taxes have to be requisitioned, which represents an expenditure of £10 a year for transport.


Mrs. Sauer, formally introduced by the Rector, declared the fete open and wished it every success. Mr. Frend, in thanking Dr. and Mrs. Sauer for kindly lending the grounds, mentioned, apropos the object of the effort, that the Rectory was practically uninhabitable. It was hoped by that afternoon’s effort to raise sufficient to pay off the amount required for meeting the cost of repairing the roof. The Women’s Institute was quite a young and growing branch, and naturally wanted something to feed on. (Laughter and hear, hear.)

Mrs. Sauer was presented with a bouquet of pink carnations by little Miss Clare Farley-Smith (grand-daughter of the Rector) and cordially thanked on the proposition of Mr. Ralph Bond.


Favoured with brilliant weather, the fete attracted a large number of visitors, who found much to interest them, apart from the pleasure of a stroll through the grounds. A unique feature at night was the flood-lighting of the beautiful Elizabethan house, which is of Purbeck ashlar, commenced in 1567 and mostly built in 1583, although considerable alterations and additions were made by the late Rev. William Bond in 1820. Mr. N. Fitzgerald generously defrayed the whole of the cost of the flood-lighting.

Mrs. W. H. Bond, Miss Margot, Mrs. Ralph Bond, Mrs. Frend and Mrs. Sauer presided at a stall devoted to the sale of miscellaneous articles, whilst members of the Women’s Institute had charge of a produce department and work made by them. Sweets were sold by Miss Margaret Bond and Miss B. Kendrick. Mrs. F. H. Swann was responsible for the serving of teas, whilst Mrs. Bowditch later in the evening saw to the provision of suppers.

Plays, “No Beggars or Hawkers” and “King or Clown?” were presented by “The Barnstormers”; “Estelle,” clairvoyante and crystal gazer, gave demonstrations, whilst various competitions added to the visitors’ interest and augmented the funds. Amongst the side-shows, &c., were a Chinese laundry, run by Mrs. Donald Leney; a treasure hunt, the charge of Mrs. John Evans; bowling, at which the helpers included Dr. Dru Drury and Mr. Ralph Bond; cocoanut shies, in the care of Mr. T. W. Wrixon; darts, Messrs W. H. Clifford Frend, C. H. Bayliss, and G. N. Walton; Mr. D. Squires (Kimmeridge) persuaded “anglers” to fish for bottles in a bath; and a whist drive on the lawn, with Mr. A. Dunning as M.C., followed by dancing to music by Wareham Town Band, were fitting finales to an interesting programme.

Messrs. J. H. Heard and Hy. Grant were responsible for preparing the ground for the fete.

Published by the Western Gazette, Friday 28 August 1936

1935: Tyneham House let

Tyneham House, Corfe Castle, a Dorset property that dates from 1580 and has been owned by one family for 250 years, has been let furnished on lease by Messrs. James Styles and Whitlock (St. James Place).

Published by The Times, Thursday 31 October 1935