One of Purbeck’s Finest Country Houses
Tyneham House affectionately referred to as ‘The Great House,’ stood as the centrepiece of village life, weaving the rich tapestry of history, family, and community in Tyneham Village.
This grand residence, nestled within the embrace of the picturesque countryside, held not only architectural splendour but also the memories of the Bond family who shaped the destiny of Tyneham for centuries.
Tyneham House Home of The Bond Family
Belonging to the esteemed Bond family, Tyneham manor house served as the epicentre around which the village’s existence revolved. The Bonds’ ownership of the estate infused every corner of Tyneham with their influence, leaving an indelible mark on the community.
Constructed in the year 1523, this three-story Elizabethan mansion possessed an elegance that echoed through time. The grandeur of its design was mirrored by the exquisite grounds that enveloped it—a meticulously maintained haven of natural beauty.
These grounds were adorned with immaculate lawns that stretched as far as the eye could see, accompanied by the shade of graceful lime trees that rustled gently in the breeze.
A touch of the exotic was added by the presence of palms and other tropical flora, which thrived due to the unique micro-climate nurtured by the valley’s humidity.
Extract From The Tyneham DVD – Tyneham Remembered
Tyneham Manor House – After The Evacuation
Following the evacuation of Tyneham Village, Tyneham House underwent a transformation that mirrored the upheaval of its surroundings.
Once a bastion of family life and social gatherings, the mansion took on new roles that reflected the wartime exigencies and post-war transitions.
In the throes of World War II, Tyneham House opened its doors to members of the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). The house became a sanctuary for these dedicated women who played an instrumental role in supporting the war effort.
Amid its opulent interiors and splendid surroundings, the mansion took on a new identity as a billeting hub for the WAAF personnel. What was once a family residence transformed into a temporary home for those serving their country in a time of great strife.
As the echoes of war faded and peace returned, Tyneham House bore witness to yet another phase in its history. After the war’s conclusion, the mansion’s doors were boarded up, preserving its grandeur within the embrace of silence. The passage of time left a subtle mark, with a few missing roof tiles being the only telltale sign of the gentle neglect that had settled in.
Tyneham House After The War
With the conclusion of World War II, Tyneham House embarked on a new chapter of its history—one marked by both the passing of time and the transformation of its identity. The echoes of conflict had barely subsided when the mansion found itself at the crossroads of restoration and dispersion.
In a bittersweet turn, Tyneham Manor House was stripped of many of its valuable possessions in the years following the war. The once-elegant interiors, adorned with treasures accumulated over generations, saw the removal of items that had witnessed the ebbs and flows of history. The allure of its antique furnishings, ornate decorations, and precious heirlooms became a coveted resource.
The mansion’s interior was methodically dismantled, with its contents repurposed for other country houses across England. Oak panelling from the interior was relocated to the Dorset County Museum. While doorway from the north porch can now be seen at the Canal at Athelhampton House and the steps were moved to Bingham’s Melcombe.
This recycling of history ensured that the spirit of Tyneham House would continue to thrive within the walls of different estates, while also preserving the legacy of the Bond family’s taste and affluence.
Interestingly, the story of Tyneham House’s post-war dispersal is not confined to the shores of England alone. Tales persist of many of its prized possessions making their way across the Atlantic to the United States.
This transatlantic journey added an international dimension to the house’s story, as its remnants found new homes far from the Dorset landscape they had graced for centuries.
The Demolition of Tyneham Manor House
In 1958 an architect working for the Ancient Monuments Commission declared that the internal construction was far beyond repair. He stated that the reconstruction would have cost over £30,000!
Back in the 1950s that was an astronomical amount of money. However, if they had gone ahead with the reconstruction, how much would it be worth today?
In 1966 a spokesman from the MOD stated that the house had never been used as target practice, but they were discussing the possibility of demolishing it. This account of events was not believed by a lot of people. At this time the windows were all boarded up making it impossible to see inside the house. Some people believed this was to hide damage to the interior caused by army shelling.
In 1968 an article in The Times reported that the MOD was actually now in the process of demolishing Tyneham House.
It had been assessed and decided that it couldn’t be restored, thus leaving demolition as the only option. Despite this assessment, photographic evidence shows that this was clearly not the case and Tynehah Manor House could have easily been restored and preserved much like the church and school were.
The circumstances were clearly different though. Few people had ever seen the house, let alone knew the whereabouts of it. Unlike the church and school which were well and truly in the public eye, Tyneham House was hidden away in Tyneham’s Great Wood, roughly half a mile from the village itself.
The Tyneham Remembered DVD has an interview with former resident, Doug Churchill. He recalls standing in the woods seeing the army stripping the house bare and loading the contents into trucks.
“The remains of The Great House before it was finally demolished. Looking like only a shadow of
it’s former glory, it could have been restored.”
The Remains of Tyneham House Today
Many people believe that because the house was hidden away in the Great Wood, it enabled the army to act quickly in destroying this wonderful country mansion. As mentioned before, many people felt it was to cover up damage done by the army while others theorized it was actually to cover up that most of the interior had been stripped away by army personnel.
The Army has since realized that this was a huge mistake and would rather keep whatever is left of Tyneham House out of the public’s eye.. Thus it is left hidden away in the Great Wood and is impossible to see when visiting the village itself.
There are still some vantage points in the surrounding countryside where it’s still possible to see the the remains of this once grand building, all be it, from a distance. The best chance to catch a glimpse of what remains of Tyneham House is in the winter when there is less greenery.