Former National School


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Tyenham, Wareham, Dorset


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Statutory Address:
Tyenham, Wareham, Dorset

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A former school, mid-C19 built probably between 1844 and 1855. Served as a village hall between 1932 and 1943, and a museum since the late C20. Abandoned along with the rest of Tyneham village in 1943; restored in 1994 and repaired in early C21.

Reasons for Designation

The former school in the abandoned village of Tyneham, which dates from the mid-C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a relatively rare example of a small village school pre-dating the 1870 Education Act, which prompted a dramatic expansion in school provision nationally; * the simplicity of this small-scale building is enhanced by the use of good-quality local materials; * while having undergone some alteration, the school retains its essential character and legibility in terms of its plan and function.

Historic interest:

* it is a prominent and well-preserved building in this 'ghost' village and a significant reminder of the huge impact the Second World War had on this small rural community; * as a National School that was commissioned, owned and supported by the landowner, who was also the rector.

Group value:

* the building is close to the C13 Church of St Mary with which it historically and visually forms a group and contributes strongly to the character of Tyneham.


Tyneham, an abandoned or ‘ghost’ village is situated in a broad wooded valley to the south of the Purbeck Hills, within a military training area. The settlement has medieval origins and is recorded as Tigeham in the Domesday Book. Lawyer and Member of Parliament Nathaniel Bond acquired the manor of Tyneham in 1683 and then bought Creech Grange (also known as Grange) to the north-east which became the family’s principal residence. He bought out his brothers' interest in their father’s estate and settled Tyneham on his younger son John. In the mid-C18 John’s son and his namesake succeeded him at Tyneham and later inherited Creech Grange from his uncle. The Bonds remained landowners of Tyneham throughout the C18 and C19 and Tyneham House to the east of the village was occupied over the years by members of the Bond family. The Reverend Nathaniel Bond, who was rector of Steeple-with-Tyneham from 1852 and also a prebendary of Salisbury, inherited the estate from his brother, John in 1844. He was responsible for substantially rebuilding Creech Grange where he lived with his family, and for carrying out a programme of building work at Tyneham, including the construction of the current school.

The Church of England’s National Society for Promoting Religious Education was set up in 1811 for the promotion of church schools and Christian education. The school at Tyneham was one of many new schools that were subsequently established to provide elementary education to the children of the poor in accordance with the teachings of the church. It is situated at the north end of the village, opposite the Church of St Mary. An article from 1855 (Poole and Dorset Herald, see Sources) refers to the ‘National Schools of Grange Steeple, and Tyneham’, and seems to indicate that the school at Tyneham was in existence by this date. Most published documents variously attribute the construction of the school to 1856, 1860 and ‘about 1870’, but it is unclear from what sources these dates originated. The current school appears to have replaced a long rectangular building depicted in the same location on the Tithe Map of Tyneham of 1840 and this is described in the accompanying apportionment from 1841 as ‘Yards, Buildings, & C’ (for etc). The school is mentioned in the Post Office Directory of 1875, although not in the 1859 directory. It was built for 60 children, aged between four and 14, but in 1895 the average attendance numbered only 36. Due to falling pupil numbers, in part attributed to the closure in 1912 of the coastguard station at nearby Worbarrow, the school was closed by the Board of Education in 1932. It then served as the village hall until 1943.

In 1917 Royal Armoured Corps Gunnery School was established at Lulworth Camp with a firing range close to the village of Tyneham. Training at Lulworth increased in the run up to the Second World War, and by the middle of the war the range was considered inadequate for the more powerful weapons being developed. In addition it was to be used for training Allied troops in advance of the D-day landings. In December 1943 Tyneham, the nearby hamlets and surrounding farms, some 7500 acres in all, were requisitioned by the War Office in order to expand the gunnery range. All local inhabitants were required to leave, displacing more than 200 people. The requisition was intended to be temporary, but after the war the military occupation of the area was considered still necessary and in 1948 the land was compulsorily purchased by the War Office. There were several long-running, but unsuccessful campaigns to allow the former residents to return, but a public enquiry upheld the occupation by the military. Since 1975, however, the public has been able to visit Tyneham and the surrounding area on approximately 145 days of the year when the military range is not in use.

The school was restored in 1994 and its interior refurbished to replicate a classroom of the 1920s. In 2013 a programme of repairs was carried out which included adding a concrete floor beneath the floorboards in the classroom, the replacement of the wainscot with tongue and groove, and replacing the ceiling. The roof was also repaired.


A former school, mid-C19 built probably between 1844 and 1855. Served as a village hall between 1932 and 1943, and a museum since the late C20. Abandoned along with the rest of Tyneham village in 1943; restored in 1994 and repaired in early C21.

MATERIALS: coursed, cut and squared limestone with ashlar dressings under a stone slate roof (re-laid in 2013) with raised coping to the gable ends and a brick stack that has been rebuilt to the rear (south).

PLAN: it has a rectangular footprint and is orientated west to east.

EXTERIOR: the building comprises the three-bay, single-storey classroom and a single-storey lean-to on the west side which has a much lower roof. The gable ends of the classroom have high stone coping with straight kneelers, and there is a chamfered stone plinth and ashlar surrounds to the windows of the north and east elevations. The entrance is in the lean-to and has a plank door and squared-headed frame set within a segmental-headed opening. The north, classroom elevation has two, three-light mullion windows, and there is a mullion and transom window, also of three lights, in a segmental-headed opening in the east gable wall. They appear to have been reglazed and lack the glazing bars which are present on historic photographs. A broad, stone and brick stack rises from the centre of the rear elevation; the brick section appears to have been partially rebuilt, and the lean-to has a single window. The west wall of the lean-to has three small lights, two of which were blocked when the adjacent building (not of interest) housing the generator was added in the late C20. There is a ventilation grille set high in the gable.

INTERIOR: from the doorway, an entrance hall/cloakroom laid with stone flags runs front to back, leading into the classroom to the left. The classroom is open to the roof. It has a concrete floor overlaid with timber floorboards, a raised dais which may not be original at the east end and simple tongue and groove wainscot which replaced earlier timber panelling. In the south wall is a stone-built fireplace with a stone slate mantelpiece. The school benches are fixed and probably brought in from elsewhere. The ceiling has exposed trusses and purlins. The principals are carried on stone corbels and have braced collars with king post and vee struts, and there are two rows of through purlins.

Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the modern, stone-built generator house on the west side of the school is not of special architectural or historic interest and is excluded from the listing.


Books and journals
Bond, L, Tyneham. A Lost Heritage, (1956, reprinted 1984), 90-92
S Lewis, 1842, A Topographical Dictionary of England, ….. with Historical and Statistical Descriptions, volume 4, pp 386.
Post Office Directory of Dorsetshire, 1859 , accessed 4 May 2020 from
Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire, 1875, accessed 4 May 2020 from
Tyneham, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east, 1970, pp. 299-303. British History Online , accessed 29 April 2020 from
Poole & Dorset Herald – Thursday 23 August 1855
Tyneham tithe map, 1840; apportionment, 1841


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

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