This old harbour town is steeped in history. First mentioned in 744 and later in the Doomsday Book of 1084, Lyme Regis, Dorset was granted a Royal Charter by Edward I in 1284. It also played its part in history when ships were sent from the Cobb to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Lyme Regis History, Culture, and Literary Connections
Cynewulf, King of Wessex makes gift of land near mouth of river Lym to Abbot of Sherborne (used to set up a salt works). Lyme forms part of Diocese of Sherborne until 1075 when Bishop moves to Old Sarum.
Charter granted by Edward I. Lyme royal property and ‘Regis’ added to name giving it right to form a Guild and send 2 members to Parliment.
Sir George Somers born in Lyme, later to become an Admiral and ‘discovered’ Bermuda.
Spanish Armada. 2 ships from Lyme join the battle.
Royalists under command of Prince Maurice besiege Lyme. The town, led by Thomas Sealey and Robert Blake is defeated by Royalist Army which suffers 2-3000 casualties.
Thomas Coram born. Obtained charter from Charles II to establish Foundling Hospital in 1739, England’s first major orphanage.
Monmouth Rebellion – James, Duke of Monmouth lands in Lyme (on the now, Monmouth Beach) to begin his ill-fated attempt at ousting his uncle, King James II and claiming the crown for himself. Judge Jeffreys sent to West Country to teach rebels a lesson – 12 hung on beach. “Lyme, although a little place, I think is wondrous pretty. If ‘tis my fate to wear the crown, I’ll make of it a city”
Henry Fielding causes a scandal when he tries, unsuccessfully, to abduct local heiress Sarah Andrews. He later immortalised her as ‘Sophie’, in his famous book ‘Tom Jones’.
The Alexandra is built as the home for the Dowager Countess Poulett.
Area rife with smugglers until around 1870.
Mary Anning born. One of best known researchers in field of fossil collecting.
Jane Austen and family frequent visitors to Lyme. The town features in the novel ‘Persuasion’.
Mary Anning and brother Joseph find first complete fossil of Ichthyosaur.
Enormous landslip at Downlands, west of town. (now magnificent nature reserve known as the famous ‘Undercliff Walk’).
Whistler (James McNeill) paints ‘Master Smith of Lyme’ and ‘The Little Rose of Lyme’, now in Boston Museum of fine Art.
The Alexandra becomes an hotel.
Railway line arrives in Lyme , bringing birth of modern day tourism.
Beatrix Potter stays in Lyme and so loves the town that she uses the facade of one of the towns prettiest cottages in her book ‘The Tale of Little Pig Robinson’.
16th Infantry US 1st Division re-groups in Lyme in preparation for D Day.
Part of town transformed for filming of John Fowles acclaimed novel ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.
BBC film on location in Lyme Jane Austen’s, ‘Persuasion’.
Lyme twins with St Georges, Bermuda.