Little Imber on the Downe

Little Imber on the Downe,
Seven miles from any towne,
Ship (sheep) bleats the unly (sic) sounds.
Life twer sweet, with ne’er a vrown (sic),
Oh let us abide on Imber Downe.

Imber is an isolated, uninhabited village on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire which is now used for training by the British Army.  It was inhabited from 967 when it was mentioned in the Domesday Book, up to 1943 when the villagers were evacuated to provide a training area for the American forces in WW2.  The villagers were given 47 days notice to leave their homes with the promise that they could return after the war, but, although the village was still habitable at the end of the war the people were never allowed to return.  It has been used by the military since that date.

Imber is opened to the public at certain times throughout the year, Easter being one of these times.  So today I drove over to take some photos and see if I could find any mention of my family - I traced my family tree and some of them originated from Imber.

There is plenty of evidence of the army everywhere - there are signs everywhere, from the time you enter the military zone and all through the village. 

On the drive in you can see lots of deserted tanks, there were cattle grazing around one of them!

This is what the village used to look like:
photo taken from Google
photo taken from Google

and this is what it looks like now:

There are only a few of the original buildings left. 
The church is a grade 1 listed building and is still within the Diocese of Salisbury, although access to it is controlled by the army. Inside the church you can still see some of the original 15th century wall paintings and the 17th century bell ringing changes.

This plaque acknowledges the sacrifice made by the villagers:
And finally ... do I hear sighs of relief? .... I found some mention of my family.  My maternal grandmother's maiden name was 'Meaden':


  1. How lovely Eileen, to be able to trace your family back all those years and know that you are still close to them. My family comes from all over, Hampshire, The Isle of Wight, Essex and East London, and before that France and Scotland!

  2. Agree with Joy's comment, and very interesting to learn about Imber as I didn't know the history behind the army having the land. Thanks for sharing. x


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