We visited the deserted village of Imber yesterday. It's a strange and eerie place, and this is its sad story, taken from the website www.nettleden.com, with a few amendments

Imber Village history

One of the army's best kept secrets, the beauty of Salisbury Plain can be enjoyed with caution and a good map. For half a century the army's vast Imber Range on Salisbury Plain has been closed to the public, and more than 16,000 acres of magnificent countryside lost to walkers and nature lovers. Imber has become a secret place unless you know where to look.

The village of Imber was a small farming village, housing several hundred residents. The village had a church, four farms, a blacksmith, two big houses, about 40 cottages, some newly built council houses and a pub called The Bell Inn.

A lot of the land around Imber had been acquired by the army because its remote location made a great training ground, but in November 1943 the War Department made a decision which would change Imber forever. On November 1st the people of Imber were summoned to the local school, where they were told that their village had been requisitioned under crown prerogative, which allowed the War Office to evacuate the area without consultation or compensation. The residents were told they had to make way for the American forces, and by the 17th December the village was emptied.

The villagers were led to believe that when the war ended they could move back to their homes, but it never happened and Imber stayed in the midst of a huge firing range. Imber is still used by the MOD today as a training ground, and all of the buildings in Imber have either been knocked down or gutted for use in training exercises. New fake houses have been built where soldiers can learn the art of urban warfare. The only untouched part of the village is St. Giles church which is fenced off with signs stating that it is 'out of bounds' to military personnel, the church is reopened at certain dates of the year for services.

The rest of the village lies derelict, home only to the sound of gun shots and empty shells.