Wiltshire

Deserted Salisbury Plain village of Imber opened to public

  • 27 December 2013
  • From the section Wiltshire
Church of St Giles
Around 4,000 people visited the Church of St Giles over four days at Easter

A village which was abandoned during World War Two and then taken over by the military has opened to the public.

Imber in Wiltshire is normally closed to civilians as it is in a Ministry of Defence (MoD) training zone on Salisbury Plain.

The population was told to leave in December 1943 and has never returned.

The isolated village and St Giles Church, the only building left intact after the Army took over, will be open to visitors until 5 January.

Public access to Imber is granted by the MoD on up to 50 days each year.

But with military training dictating dates of public access and the MoD reserving the right to close off access without notice, the number of days granted falls well short of that.

Deserted house in Imber
The village is used for military training exercises for most of the year

However Neil Skelton, a custodian of the Grade I listed church, said when public access is granted, the church always attracts large numbers of visitors.

On the four open days over Easter, around 4,000 people visited, while the Christmas carol service had to be made ticket-only for the first time this year in a bid to limit the congregation to just 250.

"Anywhere that has restricted access always has an interest from a public point of view and people do take advantage of the opening," he said.

St Giles Church will be open between 11:00 and 16:00 GMT along with the village of Imber until 5 January.

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