The small village of Tyneham, on the beautiful Isle of Purbeck, in Dorset, was once a thriving little community – that is until the British Government requisitioned it for training manoeuvres and other ‘strategic purposes’ in the run up to WWII. This was supposed to be a temporary measure, but the area remained in military possession long after hostilities had ceased, causing distress among former inhabitants, many of whom were farmed out to prefabs in nearby Wareham and Swanage.
Tyneham was characterised by its red telephone box, a tiny parade of shops – Post Office Row – and a grand country pile which stood about half a mile away from the village: Tyneham House. The army removed the building’s oak panelling and ornate decorative details and promptly set about using it for target practice. So great was the shame expressed locally about the damage inflicted upon one of Dorset’s grandest houses that the powers that be decided to grow a copse around the remains of the structure to give the impression that it was no longer there. Despite this, a substantial part of the structure remains intact, including its Saxon hall.
Land access around Tyneham was opened up in the 1970s, but admission to the house remains strictly verboten. Those who’ve been found around the premises, especially anyone wielding a camera, have felt the full weight of military trespass law. Tyneham today is regarded as a nature reserve by some – as a national embarrassment by others. It’s still a political hot potato, in Dorset at least.
The pastoral, wistful yet ineffably disquieting music of Tyneham House is made by artists who have previously graced Second Language releases, but who wish to remain anonymous here, save for their eponymous title. The musicians are happy, however, to let it be known that these recordings have been around for some years (many of them compiled from old cassettes) and that they take inspiration from the 1960s/’70s/’80s work of the Children’s Film Foundation – a body who really ought to have made a film about this mysterious West Country curio. At least now we have its endlessly poignant soundtrack.
'Tyneham House' is a joint release between the London-based independent labels, Second Language and Clay Pipe Music. This 14 track CD album comes packaged in a Gocco-printed card box with booklet and cassette tape of bonus material (18+ minutes) - all beautifully illustrated throughout by award winning artist Frances Castle of Clay Pipe Music.
This is SL015/Pipe003. Limited to 300 copies only.
Tracklisting (CD) :
• A Chalk Horse
• Rookery Wood
• Coppice Walk
• Post Office Row
• The Crows Circle
• Winter Carriage
• The Ragged Cat
• I Shall Not Cross The Sleeping Hill
• The Porch Room
• Saxon Chapel
• Last Village Before The Sea
• Lit Room At Midnight
Tracklisting (Cassette) :
A: A School Holiday, 1977
B: May Day, 1981
Find out more about Tyneham House (the village) here: http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/85/tyneham_village_of_the_vanished.html