History of the village
There was a settlement at Imber by the 10th century when 'Imemerie' appears in a charter of 967. The land was held by the Abbess of Romsey as part of the Edington Estate. In 1086 it was recorded as being divided between the Abbess of Romsey and the Earl of Hereford. By the late 13th century the manor had passed to the de Rous and Hungerford families. During the 16th century Imber passed to the Thynne family of Longleat who remained patrons of the living into the 19th century. The Wadmans acquired land during the 17th century.
Military activity on Salisbury Plain began in 1897, increasing rapidly during the First World War. Troops were billeted at Imber Court in 1916. From 1927 the War Office began buying up land and leasing it back to the farmers. By 1932 all of the farmland was owned by the War Office. The village was evacuated in November 1943 to facilitate training of American troops for the D-Day landings. The village has remained in military occupation ever since.
History of the Church
The church occupies the site of an earlier building dating from the mid-12th century. The nave was rebuilt towards the end of the 13th century and was followed, circa 1400, by the addition of the north and south aisles, the tower and north porch. At this time the nave roof was reconstructed. The chancel was rebuilt in 1849 at which time the north-east vestry was built.
The church was rich in fittings and furnishings which are now scattered among other churches in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. However, some of the 13th and 15th century wall paintings survive.
The church served the inhabitants of Imber until the evacuation of the village in 1943.
During the early 1950s the War Office (now Ministry of Defence) undertook to keep the church in a modest state of repair until a decision was made as to its ultimate future. This undertaking came to an end in 2002 when responsibility for the building reverted to the Diocese of Salisbury. In 2005 this Grade I listed building was vested in The Churches Conservation Trust for preservation and repair. With assistance from the Ministry of Defence, the Trust has carried out a comprehensive campaign of repair and conservation to the building and its wall paintings.
To discover more about The Churches Conservation Trust please visit: www.visitchurches.org.uk (opens a new window)