Church of St Mary


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Tyneham, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QN


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Statutory Address:
Tyneham, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QN

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

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Redundant parish church, C13 origins with a C14 porch (re-sited to current position). Mid-C18 restoration. C19 alterations, including works by Benjamin Ferry and George R Crickmay, and late-C20 minor repairs.

Reasons for Designation

The Church of St Mary, a redundant medieval church which was restored in the mid-C18 and underwent C19 alterations, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * the extent of surviving medieval fabric; * the C19 additions, whilst altering the character of the church, do not overall detract from the integrity of the earlier core; * the well-considered, Gothic-Revival design and good-quality craftsmanship of the south transept.

Historic interest: * as a prominent and well-preserved building in the abandoned village of Tyneham, and a poignant reminder of the huge impact of the Second World War on this small rural community; * its association with Benjamin Ferrey and George Crickmay, respected architects who both developed strong bodies of work nationally.

Group value: * its historic and visual relationship with the former schoolhouse and the drinking fountain, both listed at Grade II.


Tyneham, an abandoned or ‘ghost’ village is situated in a broad wooded valley to the south of the Purbeck Hills. 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 his son and 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 Church of St Mary stands prominently at the north end of the village, within its churchyard. It has medieval origins, with parts of the nave and north transept dating from the C13, and was restored in 1744. Further alterations and enlargement were carried out in the C19. The south transept was added prior to 1842 (Lewis, see SOURCES) by the Reverend William Bond for the sole use of the Bond family. It was designed by the architect Benjamin Ferrey (1810-1880) and replaced an earlier south transept. The chancel was also rebuilt in the 1870s to the designs of George R Crickmay (1830-1907). The porch is said (RCHME, see SOURCES) to have been moved in the C19 from its original position the south side of the building to its current location. The church is described in Hunt & Co's Directory of 1851 as consisting of ‘a nave and chancel’, failing to mention the transepts. The slightly later Post Office Directory of 1859 describes the building as a ‘small structure, with a nave, chancel and north and south transepts, and no tower’.

In 1917 the Royal Armoured Corps Gunnery School was established at Lulworth Camp with a firing range close to Tyneham. Training at Lulworth increased in the run up to the Second World War, and in December 1943 Tyneham and the nearby hamlets and farms, comprising some 7,500 acres, were requisitioned by the War Office 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. In 1948 the land was compulsorily purchased by the War Office. 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.

Following the army’s requisitioning of Tyneham, the church plate and some furnishings were removed for safekeeping. The two bells, one of around 1500 and the other dating to 1784, the reredos and the organ were moved to Steeple church, and the pulpit to Lulworth Camp; this has been returned. In the late C20 a programme of restoration was undertaken at Tyneham, with repairs carried out on a number of buildings, including the church. The slates on the nave roof, which was previously covered with lead, date from this period. A permanent exhibition about the history of the village has also been established within the church.


Redundant parish church, C13 origins with a C14 porch (re-sited to current position). Mid-C18 restoration. C19 alterations, including works by Benjamin Ferry and George R Crickmay, and late-C20 minor repairs.

MATERIALS The church is built from coursed, cut and squared limestone and random limestone rubble, with ashlar dressings, under stone slate and slate roofs.

PLAN The building is cruciform on plan, comprising a chancel, nave, north and south transepts and a west porch.

EXTERIOR The south transept and the south wall of the nave have a chamfered stone plinth and the chancel has a low, roll-moulded string course. The gables have stone copings, some surmounted with stone finials, and above the junction between the nave and chancel is a bellcote with two arched openings under a coped stone capping. The south wall of the nave has a mid-C19 window of two lights in a square head in the C14 style and labels, and the north wall has a blocked C17 doorway with a chamfered lintel. The chancel has diagonal corner buttresses, a three-light east window in the Early English style, a single lancet in the north elevation and two lancets in the south wall. The organ chamber on the north side has a C19 window of two pointed-arched lights. The north transept has short buttresses at the corners. There is a relieving arch in the north wall; a C17 square-headed, three-light window with late-C20 glass in the west wall and in the east wall is a medieval window which has two uncusped, pointed-arched lights within a plain stone surround. The C19 south transept has diagonal corner buttresses and a later C19 pointed-arched south window of three trefoil-headed lights with intersecting tracery and roll-moulded dripmould with label stops. In the east wall is a three-light window with two-centred trefoiled openings in a square head with labels; to the left is a doorway with moulded two-centred head and labels. Above the doorway, is a recessed stone panel containing a carving of the Bond shield-of-arms within a chamfered surround. The entrance in the west porch has chamfered jambs and a segmental-pointed head of two chamfered orders and the mid-C19 west doorway to the nave has an angled two-centred head of two chamfered orders.

INTERIOR At the west end of the nave is a gallery that has been widened and is accessed from a closed string stairs with a plain newel and balusters. It has an C18 oak-panelled front with dentilled cornice and a framed, wooden panel which has a depiction of the Crucifixion in relief and the inscription: I IF I BE LIFTED UP, WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME (John 12:32). The wooden pulpit incorporates some C17 fabric, and there are plain, fixed wooden pews. The segmental-arched plaster ceiling and cornice date probably to 1744. The mid-C19 chancel arch is two-centred and hollow-chamfered and springs from square responds with moulded imposts. The chancel gates, communion rail, patterned floor tiles and common rafter roof all date from the later C19. The north transept arch is mid-C19 and similar in style to the chancel arch. Set into the east wall of the north transept is a piscina of around 1300 and above this is the remains of a small stone cross that has a much-worn inscription in incised black-lettering, possibly 'IHS orate pro nobis'. The stone font is hexagonal with a carved wooden cover. The pews are fixed. The plaster ceiling is mid-C18. The south transept arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the outer is continuous and the inner springs from semi-octagonal responds with moulded caps. A low oak screen and door divides the south transept from the rest of the church. The segmental-arch above its east window has a Latin inscription recording that William Bond, Rector, built the transept, while the surround of the south window also carries an inscription. The wooden boarded barrel roof has decorative carved bosses, some with shields, and the cornice has motifs of flowers and fleur-de-lys. Wall-mounted memorials include a black marble tablet with moulded freestone architrave, side scrolls and pediment of 1769; a much-restored monument of 1641 to John Williams (d 1627) and his wife Jane (d 1636) in the form of a classically-framed tablet with a panel of achievements and cartouches of arms; and three C19 canopied monuments of Caen stone to members of the Bond family. In the chancel is a marble First World War memorial plaque. The stained glass includes the chancel east window of 1924 by artist Martin Travers, and works, also of the early C20, by the firm of Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd. The names of the villagers displaced during the Second World War are recorded on late-C20 coloured tiles on the walls of the nave and north and south transepts. The painted matchboarding is also late C20.


Books and journals
Bond, L, Tyneham. A Lost Heritage, (1956, reprinted 1984), 98-103
Hill, M, Newman, J, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England. Dorset, (2018), 615-16
Lewis, S, A Topographical Dictionary of England, (1842), 386
'The Late Benjamin Ferrey, Architect' in The Builder, , Vol. XXXIX, (Saturday, September 4, 1880), 283
Hunt & Co.'s Directory of Dorsetshire, with parts of Hants and Wilts, 1851, accessed 28 May 2020 from
Post Office Directory of Dorsetshire, 1859 , 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
Proposed plans with envelope of the alterations to Tyneham church showing ground plan west and south elevations, undated (late C19). PE_TYN/IN/3/1 Dorset History Centre
Tyneham. Correspondence for building a new chancel at Tyneham Church with a sketch.


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

End of official listing

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