Tyneham House

One of Purbeck’s Finest Country Houses

tyneham house

Tyneham House, or ‘The Great House’ as it was more commonly known was the home of the Bonds.

The Bond family owned Tyneham and as a result, much of the village life revolved around their grand family home. In its heyday it was one of the most beautiful country houses in Dorset.

Originally built in 1523, the three story Elizabethan mansion was set in beautiful grounds with immaculate lawns, lime trees, palms and other tropical plants that were able to survive in the humid micro-climate of the valley.

Extract From The Tyneham DVD – Tyneham Remembered

Tyneham House – After The Evacuation

After the forced evacuation of Tyneham, Tyneham house was used to house members of the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) who were billeted there during the war. After the war it was boarded up and remained more or less intact for the following years. Some missing roof tiles the only real sign of neglect.

2 Members of the WAAF
“Two Members of the WAAF Sitting Outside The Great House”

After the war was over, Tyneham House was stripped of most of its valuable possessions. Almost all of the interior was taken out so that it could be used in other country houses in England. It is said that much of it was also taken to the United States.

Oak paneling 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. The steps were moved to Bingham’s Melcombe. Unfortunately this is a private house so these can no longer be viewed by the public.

Doorway from The North Porch – Now at Athelhampton House
Tyneham's Great House and Gardens

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 has 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 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 the Great 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.

Tyneham House Still Standing

“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.”

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 have 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 glimse of what remains of Tyneham House is in the winter when there is less greenery.

Tyneham House As It Is Today
Tyneham House as it is today. Hidden away in the trees, it’s strictly off limits to the public.

9 thoughts on “Tyneham House

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    Are you able, I wonder, to put me in touch (preferably by email) with any member of the Bond family formerly of Tyneham House? I am anxious, if I can, to establish the relationship between this branch of the Bond family and that of the Catholic Sir Henry Bond, an official at the court of King Charles II, and whose son, also Henry, fled to France with King James II in 1688. I am researching the latter who once owned an interesting collection of late seventeenth-century music manuscripts (and prints) which is now in the British Library and which, some time in the near future, I am hoping to write up for publication. This branch of the Bond family died out about the middle of the eighteenth century, but since the Tyneham branch also goes back to the early sixteenth century, I fancy there is a common link somewhere. I don’t recall seeing the name Nathaniel among any of the papers relating to the Bonds of Streatham I have previously looked at, and the great house built here by Sir Henry Bond in the 1670s (if I remember rightly) was burned to the ground by anti-Catholic rioters in 1688. It may well be that there is no direct connection, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I shall be very appreciative of any help you are able to provide.
    Yours sincerely,
    Harry Johnstone, Emeritus Fellow in Music at St Anne’s College, Oxford.

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      Mr. Johnstone,
      I’m not sure how long ago your comment was posted, so this may no longer be of interest to you. My uncle, Maj-Gen Mark Bond, son of the last owners of Tyneham, died in 2017, but I would be glad to answer any questions you might have.

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    Highcliffe castle was in the same state of disintegration and yet someone with foresight and a love of history brought this back to its original glory. Why can this not be done with tyneham?

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    What an appalling story. No doubt all the senior army officers etc. are long gone, taking their ill gotten gains, so not too surprisingly , no-one can be held responsible. That’s an all too familiar happening. Hopefully their families feel suitably ashamed ( unfortunately pretty unlikely!).
    Roger

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    It would interesting to find out benefitted financially as a result of the decision to relocate much of the building to other houses around the country.

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    I truly feel for the Bonds. I’m writing a book at the moment about haunted places and although this place isn’t haunted with ghosts it is still a ghost town. As I’ve learned more and more about this place and the Bond family my heart goes out to them.

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    What a travesty to see what became of this great house. The Bond family must have felt their hearts being ripped out by the losing of their home. Is the home off limits because of the dangers the Army left or just to be protected? I just finished reading a novel named The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons. The author changed the name but it is about the history of this house. I did my own research because I fell in love with this village, cottages and the people. How sad that it was reduced to what it is now but to know it still stands is remarkable.

    Regards,
    Palmela De Souza Brunelle

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    It’s hard to believe what you read about this – how can you only compensate someone for the vegetables in their garden. They lost their homes – surely the government need to put this right and at least restore this wonderful house even if it’s for weekend viewing or for the bond family to visit. We have a habit of going in taking what we want and giving very little back. I know we are not responsible for what went on through history but I think we should try and make things right if we can. This was not fair what happened in Tyneham. I feel for the Bond family. Were they able to start again in Dorset with their compensation. Do we really need a firing range now in this lovely setting when it could be moved elsewhere.

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    Mr. Johnstone,
    I’m not sure how long ago your comment was posted, so this may no longer be of interest to you. My uncle, Maj-Gen Mark Bond, son of the last owners of Tyneham, died in 2017, but I would be glad to answer any questions you might have.

    Reply

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