Lyme Bay, Dorset
Jurassic Heritage Coast
Lyme Bay - Dorset & Devon Coast

Lyme Bay

Saturday, 2nd March 2024, 9:34am

Devon Dorset

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Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis, Dorset

Lyme Regis, Dorset

Lyme Regis in West Dorset was a medieval port which became a seaside resort in the 18th Century. Lyme Regis (Regis means 'of the King') has an excellent sandy beach and small harbour. The promenade displays the traditional deckchair image during the summer months. The River Lym also makes its way through Lyme Regis town and flows into Lyme Bay.

History of Lyme Regis, Dorset

A salt works was set up by the mouth of the River Lym in the 8th Century following a gift of land being given to the Abbott of Sherborne from Cynewulf, the King of Wessex.

Edward I (1239-1307) granted Lyme its royal title (Regis) in 1284 during his wars against the French, sheltering his fleet in the harbour with the protection of the massive breakwater known as 'The Cobb', which was built in the 13th Century.

Mary Tudor (1517-1558) called Lyme Regis "That heretic town" and stopped an ancient grant for maintenance of The Cob. Lyme Regis had been known to be radical for religious and political makers.

In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis to lead a rebellion against James II. He failed.

The novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) owned a seafront cottage here in around 1804 and set part of the setting of 'Persuasion' in Lyme Regis.

Lyme Regis was involved in the smuggling trade during the 18th and 19th Century. Devon's most famous, Jack Rattenbury who was born in Beer in 1778, married a woman from Lyme Regis.

Mary Anning (1799-1847) was born on the site of the Philpot Museum. She became a famous and pioneering geologist at Lyme Regis, making a living from the subject. She sold her larger discoveries to museums and collectors, with smaller fossils being made available to ordinary visitors. She became known as 'The Princess of Palaeontology'. It is also claimed that Mary Anning was the subject of the tongue twister: 'She sells sea shells on the sea shore'.

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) visited Lyme Regis in 1895 and painted 'Little Rose of Lyme Regis' and 'The Blacksmith of Lyme Regis'.

To the west of Lyme Regis is Dowlands Landslip, a section of cliff which collapsed in 1839 on Christmas Day. A gash 6 miles long was left after an estimated 800 million tons of cliff fell. Now commonly known as the 'Undercliff', this area has since been colonised by a natural woodland.

Beatrice Potter (1866-1943) spent holiday time at Lyme Regis in 1904 and used some of the views of the town in her book 'Little Pig Robinson'.

A branch line of the London & South Western Railway was constructed in 1903 to bring holidaymakers into Lyme Regis from the main line at Axminster. This line, like many others in the 1960's was scrapped during the British Rail cutbacks. In 1980 the railway station was dismantled and rebuilt at Alresford, near Winchester for the 'Watercress' Mid Hants Railway.

'The French Lieutenant's Woman' starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons was filmed in Lyme Regis in 1980.

The South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path enters Lyme Regis, West Dorset, from the east after having passed Black Ven (mudslip). The path leaves to the west of Lyme Regis, entering the county of Devon and towards Dowlands Landslip. This is a very remote wooded area.

Good Beach Guide

Lyme Regis (Cobb), Dorset...The sea water quality is rated as having passed the EC Mandatory Standard and receives a Recommendation (the highest award) from The Marine Conservation Society.

Royal National Lifeboat Institute

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) operate a lifeboat service from the harbour of Lyme Regis.