Not long after residents of Oxfordshire were perplexed by the sudden influx of Japanese tourists to the village of Kidlington, the village of Imber – which has a population of exactly zero – is being opened up to visitors.
But what happened to this Wiltshire village, and what can you expect to find there? We found out everything you need to know.
Why did the residents leave?
During the Second World War the villagers of Imber were evicted.
On November 1, 1943, residents were called to a meeting in the village schoolhouse and the War Office – whose powers have since been transferred to the Ministry of Defence – gave them 47 days’ notice to leave.
The village was intended for the training of US Armed Forces to practise street battles ahead of the D-Day landings which took place the following June.
Most villagers left without a fuss, with many leaving provisions of canned goods in their kitchens for the soldiers, as they believed this was their contribution to the war effort.
The occupants of one farm, however, did have to be forcibly evicted.
Villagers were not granted much in the way of compensation either.
How could the War Office evict all the villagers?
The War Office had begun buying up land on Salisbury Plain in the late 19th century and by the 1920s, they had bought the land the village sat on.
When the Second World War began, the War Office owned all of the land except for the schoolhouse, church, chapel, vicarage and pub.
This allowed the War Office to take control and evict residents as it deemed necessary.
What happened after the war?
By the time war was over, many of the village’s buildings had suffered some shell damage and fell into disrepair.
Villagers had initially been told they would be allowed to return in six months but this never happened.
In 1961, a rally attended by around 2,000 people took place to demand the villagers be allowed to move back in.
The matter was looked into by a public inquiry which ruled in favour of the Ministry of Defence and the issue was also raised House of Lords.
It was decided that the church was to be maintained an open for worship on the closest Saturday to St Giles Day.
What about the land the MoD didn’t own?
The village pub, The Bell Inn, was sold to the MoD in the 1950s and the Baptist Chapel was also sold to the MoD in the 1970s.
St Giles’ church and its graveyard remained in the hands of the Diocese of Salisbury with access controlled by the MoD.
It is a Grade I listed property and in 2001 the Church of England said St Giles’ was in need to extensive repair.
As the parish council would not take responsibility for the repair of a church which they only had access to once a year, it was signed over to the Churches Conservation Trust and restoration work was completed in September 2009.
Can I visit now?
Visitors can come and see this ghost-town-like village, but access is restricted to 50 days a year, as determined by the MoD.
There is no mobile phone signal in Imber so remember to save any information to your phone before you set off.
The village will next open for the weekend of Remembrance Sunday, from 6pm Friday, November 11, until 8am, Monday, November 14.
Dates for Christmas openings are yet to be announced.
For more information on visiting the village, visit its website.
Have you been to Imber? Would you like to visit? Let us know in the Comments section below.