The lost village of Imber, Wiltshire (County series 1:10,000)
Described by Ella Noyes in the 1890’s, Imber was “one straggling street of old cottages and farmsteads winding along the hollow under the sheltering elms.” The village of Imber had been a remote village nestled in a small valley on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. It had for centuries made the most of its secluded existence by surviving largely unscathed by both civil unrest and pestilence that had from time to time existed elsewhere in England.
It was later in the 1890’s that its fortunes started to change with the arrival of the Army on Salisbury Plain. The War Office concluded its search for a large training environment with the purchase of over 40,000 acres of land on the east of the plain.
With the advent of WW1, training increased significantly around Imber with the villagers suffering virtual imprisonment as the surrounding countryside was shelled.
The village struggled to maintain its self-sufficiency on the cratered landscape it had sought to farm in the post war years and its decline continued until 1943, when, with the village now in the centre of the military’s western ranges, the inhabitants were given 46 days to leave.
There is little of the original village remaining today and nearly half of the standing structures were built by the army.
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