Saturday, September 05, 2009

Straight Outta Imber

Poor Imber. The village, mentioned in the Domesday Book and located in the middle of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, was requisitioned by the military during World War II for training purposes. The military said they'd give it back after the war, but didn't. The inhabitants were given a month to move out, never to return. The ghost village – not marked on any modern map – is still used to this day for army training. Most of the original buildings have been destroyed; only the church, a pub and one or two others survive. The village now comprises of mainly purpose-built skeleton houses for the army to use.

The road to Imber, from Warminster, started pleasantly and peaceful enough with no traffic on the small road, rolling hills and birds singing in the sky. In fact, it's not until we drove past a wrecked, rusty old tank, and then another, that things started to feel like a war zone. Soon the whole landscape resembled a tank graveyard. Dotted on either side of the road are scaring signs declaring 'DANGER UNEXPLODED MILITARY DEBRIS – DO NOT LEAVE THE CARRIAGEWAY'. We didn't.

There are mixed feelings about the army being on Salisbury Plain (and owning land the size of the Isle of Wight). My partner thinks it's good for the countryside and wildlife – as no development is permitted. My opinion is it scares the hell out of me.

(I've written previously about Imber and the army on Salisbury Plain here.)

Imber village is open to the public a few times a year; usually around Easter, Christmas and the month of August. In the first weekend in September the church, St Giles, is open for services.

No comments :