WHEN the third lockdown finally ends many of us will be desperate to explore some hidden gems in the South West.

Abandoned villages can be found scattered across Wiltshire and Dorset and are a perfect day out for tourists looking to delve deeper into British history.

Some villages were cleared to allow the military to use the area as training grounds during World War Two, while others were destroyed.

Here are a number of villages where time stopped.

1 - Imber

Villagers from Imber, on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, were cleared in 1943 to allow the military to use the area as training grounds in the war efforts.

American troops used the village to prepare for the invasion of Europe - which would begin in 1944 with D-Day on June 6.

The majority of the 152 villagers fled the village without putting up a fight, but the occupants of one farm had to be forcibly evicted by the Army.

Albert Nash, who had been the village blacksmith for over 40 years, was believed to have been found sobbing over his anvil.

Despite residents trying to go back, the village remains under the control of the Ministry of Defence.

Since 2009, the annual summer opening of the village has been served by preserved and new double-decker buses, many originally from London.

Imber. Photo by Trevor Porter

Imber. Photo by Trevor Porter

2 - Snap

The village, near Aldbourne in north-east Wiltshire, was recorded in 1268 under the name of Snape.

In the 14th century it had just 19 poll-tax payers.

Until 1905, the area was mainly used for agricultural farming, but villagers were deprived of work when a butcher from Ramsbury, Henry Wilson, bought the two farms and converted them for sheep farming.

This meant by 1909 there were just two remaining residents and by 1914 the village was deserted.

The majority of the buildings were destroyed when the site was used for military training in World War One and were later looted for building materials.

The name is remembered in Snap Farm and the village can be found near the Ridgeway National Trail.

3 - Bardolfeston

Based north-east of Puddletown, in Dorset, was the tiny village of Bardolfeston.

Historic England said the deserted village had up to 27 buildings and a church and was a parish in its own right.

But the village's population declined from the 14th century onwards, according to early documents. The site was finally deserted by the 17th century and became lost in time.

4 - Tyneham

The Dorset village is based in East Lulworth, near Wareham, and lies between the two ridges of the Purbeck Hills.

Tyneham can be accessed off the B3070 where motorists must then follow the signs for the village on the rural road.

In Autumn 1943, residents received a letter from the Government to vacate their homes and were given just over a month’s notice to leave.

The village continues to be managed by the Ministry of Defence.

It can be visited by tourists, but is only accessible on weekends and public holidays.

Tyneham in 1938

Tyneham in 1938

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