Friday, January 28, 2011
You're probably well aware by now that I have an interest in the lost or the missing, such as disused stations and tunnels, anything to which the term 'ghost' can be applied. Then you can imagine my excitement when I heard for the first time about a 'ghost village' in the UK. I've come across abandoned communities before, and visited one, Dunwich in Suffolk. But the people moved from Dunwich because of coastal erosion and while it was fascinating it had little of the creepy, ghostly feel I want from my deserted places.
Then I read about Imber, an isolated village on Salisbury Plain, just another dot on the map in Wiltshire. It's there in the Doomsday book, with a population of 50, and probably because it was so remote, its inhabitants hardly increased over the centuries. In the mid-20th century it is estimated 150 people lived there, but it boasted a glorious 700-year-old church, as well as a pub, and it seems like it was close-knit and friendly community. Until the Second World War.
When the war was over, the MoD intended to repair the properties damaged during manouevres and let the people back. Or so they said. Nothing happened. The villagers kept asking questions about when they could go home. Eventually the MoD said they would never be able to return: the land was going to be kept for training purposes.
This obviously went down like a bucket of cold sick. The villagers organised public rallies in support of their return. In 1961 a public inquiry was held which, unsurprisingly, found in favour of the army. The only sop thrown by those in power was a promise to maintain the church, and to open it to the public for services once a year, on the Sunday closest to St Giles' day (St Giles being the name of the church.) However, there was to be no homecoming for the residents, though one exiled Imberite was allowed his last wish of being buried in the church graveyard of his former home.
Plus I want to know what happened to those cans of food.
Dan - Friday
at 7:02 AM