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Tyneham House

Tyneham House c. 1854

Tyneham House c. 1927

Tyneham House c. 1943

Tyneham House c. 1913

Postcard courtesy of Dave Sansom

Tyneham House

Postcard courtesy of Dave Sansom

In 1941, Tyneham House was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force as an administrative centre for the radar station at Brandy Bay.

Tyneham House

Sketch by W I Travers 1908

Copy courtesy of Pete Ross

The Times – Tuesday 9 April 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 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.”


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.

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.

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.

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

  1. Bond  (ancient) imp. Lawrence.
  2. Bond (ancient) quarterly with Bond of Cornwall.
  3. 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.


Aerial View of Tyneham House 2012

Little of the main house now remains.

East of the house, the avenue of trees lining ‘Coppice Walk’ can be seen

Image courtesy of Google Earth

The Medeavial Hall

Tyneham House

Tyneham House 2011

© Shaun Matthews of Low Level Aerial Photography 2011

Buildings & Places:

Tyneham Village

Double Cottages

Gardener’s Cottage

Gwyle Cottages

Laundry Cottages

Museum Cottage

Post Office Row


Rectory Cottages

Telephone Kiosk

The Ponds

Tyneham Church

Tyneham Churchyard

Tyneham Farm

Tyneham House

Tyneham School

Village Pond

Village Tap


Coastguard Station

Fern Hollow

Gate Cottages

Hill Cottage

Mintern’s Cottage

Rose Cottage

Sea Cottage


The Bungalow

Worbarrow Bay

Worbarrow Tout



North Egliston


RAF Brandy Bay

South Egliston


The ruins of Tyneham House are NOT accessible to members of the public.

Tyneham House 1948