The Lost Village of Imber

Imber, a tiny village on Salisbury Plain, is one place I’d always wanted to take a look at but had never got round to it. With access denied for most of the year due to it being in the middle of one of the largest army training areas in the country the village is only open to the public for a few days mainly over Christmas and Easter.

There has been a settlement at Imber since 967AD but the village was evacuated in 1943, to provide an area for American troops to train for European invasion during WWII, and it has been deserted ever since. Villagers were given 47 days notice to leave which must have been a huge wrench as some families had been there for generations. In recent years the village was used for urban warfare training with the army erecting a number of shell houses for training purposes. These, along with the church and one or two other buildings, is all that remains of Imber.

I also wanted to see what the roads were like for cycling as I plan to come back later in the year on the bike. The main access road is between Gore Cross (on the A360 just north of Tilshead) and Warminster and is a decent tarmac surface, no problem at all for bikes (mountain or road), cars and motorbikes. The MOD obviously spend more money on roads than the County Council as it was in a better state than our local roads.  The tracks from north (Bratton) to south (Heytesbury) have unsurfaced sections and are unsuitable for road bikes.

Warning Signs

There are plenty of warning signs as you enter the plain past the checkpoint. The roads are accessible over Christmas with today being the last day of access.

Imber Church

The churchof St Giles has been restored and is kept going by work of volunteers and donations. It will be next open again at Easter.

Imber Village 2

Imber village

There are various army training houses dotted around the village.

Military debris


On the road between Imber and Warminster there were a number of tanks and vehicles along the road which have been used for target practice. We didn’t have any great views as the Plain was shrouded in mist giving it a very enclosed, eerie feel but, despite this, there were quite a few people about making the most of the last day of access.

Hopefully there will be one or two days of open access over the summer as this would be a great place to spend a few hours cycling.


4 responses to “The Lost Village of Imber

  1. I spent many a happy hour in and around Imber in my Army days, practising FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Areas)! A dismal place, as I recall. I also probably shot something at that tank…

    • Yes it was probably fitting weather for our visit, very dreary. It’s funny the fact that it’s closed most of the year makes it intriguing; if it was open every day nobody would bother visiting!

  2. Nice post and some great photos. Imber is of the places I’d really like to visit, although as I am near STANTA in Norfolk that is probably going to be the one I get to first! STANTA is home to no less than three villages abandoned for the military in 1942, plus other long-deserted medieval villages and demolished great houses. I’ve shared on my FB page ‘Deserted Settlements’ and my Twitter account @lostvillages, by the way.

  3. Nice to hear from you Ian. It’s an intriguing place because of it’s relatively recent history. Very isolated in the middle of Salisbury Plain, I would really like to visit again in the Summer if possible, I’m sure better weather would give a completely different perspective. Hope you get a chance to visit one day.

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