The village of Imber, tucked away on Salisbury Plain. In 1943, the village was evacuated with residents given just 43 days notice to leave. They never returned. The village was swallowed up as part of the military training area and remains so. I wrote a little bit about the history of Imber here.
It’s the perfect post- Christmas wander to blow away the cobwebs and walk off the festive excess.
The open days at the village are something special; general access to the area is not permitted for much of the year. There are only a few key dates when you can see and explore what remains of Imber.
It’s free, you don’t need to pre book and it’s a relatively covid safe option, being out doors with ample space to socially distance.
What to Expect?
Abandoned buildings, a haunting history and a glimpse into the world of modern day military training. The village is made up of original buildings such as the former ‘big house’ Imber Court and later additions such as the 1930’s council houses. There is also a modern style housing estate added by the MoD to train soldiers to fight in an urban environment.
The heart of the village was- and remains- the church. It’s the only building left that is afforded some protection. St Giles sits behind it’s own protective fence, is the only building in the village not used by the military in training. The building is managed by the Churches Conservation Trust. The church is open 11.00 – 16.00 during village open days, acting as a visitor centre of sorts and selling light refreshments.
Look out for the floral and foliage arrangements at the church, they are created by volunteers and based on the style and traditions that residents of Imber would have known when the church was in use.
When to Visit?
As previously mentioned , the village is not open for general public across the year. If you want to visit you need to go on one of the Imber Village open days, usually held around Christmas, Easter and August. Dates are scheduled to coincide with the times the military are ‘stood down’ and the military training calendar will dictate dates of public access. All of that said, good news…
Imber will be open for access from the 29th of December 2021 until the 3rd of January 2022. St Giles church will be open on these dates from 11.00 – 16.00
Things to Keep in Mind…
Salisbury Plain is, first and foremost, a military training area. It’s important to stick to the public rights of way and comply with any signage telling you where you can/ can’t go. This isn’t the place to go off piste.
Don’t be tempted to venture into the buildings, they are strictly off limits unless expressly told otherwise. You can get close enough to peek inside and get some pictures, no need to risk going in.
There will be light refreshments on sale at St Giles, payment is cash only. You’ll also find information and photographs here about the history of the village and the forced evacuation.
Toilets are available in the form of Portaloos. Never lovely, but the best you can expect in an abandoned village I suppose. Take tissues and hand sanitiser.
Imber doesn’t have a working post code and it can be a bit of an adventure to find. Find directions to the village here. Look out for these signs, then you’ll know you’ve found the road in.
For details of open days and events in present day Imber : www.imberchurch.org.uk
For a look into the history of Imber and the people who lived there: www.imbervillage.co.uk
If abandoned villages that come with an intriguing history are up your street, you might also enjoy reading about the village of Tyneham in Dorset.