Imber village evacuated in World War II opens to public

Church of St Giles
Image caption A replacement set of bells was hung in St Giles Church in 2010

A village in Wiltshire that was abandoned during World War II and then taken over by the military is to open for the summer.

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

Residents were evacuated in December 1943 and were never allowed to return.

From 16:00 BST to 23 August, St Giles Church - one of the only buildings left standing in its original form - and the village will be open to visitors.

A full peal of the bells, which were re-hung in August 2010 after the original bells were taken out in 1950, will be rung on 14 August. If successful it will take approximately two-and-half hours to complete.

Invasion of Europe

"Visitors are asked to keep to the metalled roads and the track leading to the church," a church spokesperson said.

"All other tracks and the buildings in Imber village are out-of-bounds."

The entire civilian population of the village was ordered to leave in 1943 to provide a training area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe during WWII.

Since 2005, when the church was taken over by the Churches Conservation Trust, more than £300,000 has been spent on renovations.

Public access to the village is granted by the MoD on up to 50 days a year, including periods over Easter, Christmas, New Year and in August.

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