Lyme Regis

Fossils, travel and holiday information about Lyme Regis



Lyme Regis - Lyme Regis visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Lyme Regis' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Dorset.

Lyme Regis is a small town and fishing port in the South West of Dorset, England. Mentioned as 'Lyme' in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name comes from the River Lym that runs through the town and Royal Charter (Regis) granted in 1284 by King Edward I. Lyme Regis became a major British port in the middle ages, though nowadays it's fame is as a holiday destination during the British summer. The town in the middle of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and is also famous for the fossil beds on which it is built.

Naturally, there are plenty of small hotels, and numerous Bed and Breakfast (B&B) and holiday cottages both in the town itself and scattered throughout the surrounding country to cater for the number of visitors and holiday makers who decide to come the the Pearl of Dorset.

Holidays in Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis has historically be known as the 'Pearl of Dorset', and this is not without reason. The town is built on the coast set among fantastic scenery and undulating hillsides. This has become a much loved destination for many people. Lyme Regis has a small port and is no stranger to offering a range of seaside activities, including scuba diving, sailing, wind surfing, fishing and more. The surrounding countryside provides ample opportunities for hill walkers and day trips. The area is also very rich in geology, and many try their hand at hunting for fossils along the coastline. The world's first ichthyosaurus was excavated by Mary Anning, the most famous fossil hunter of the area who lived in Lyme Regis in the 19th Century. Fossils continue to play an important part in local tourism, and with them so does Mary Anning.

About the Town
There are a number of tourist attractions in and around the town. One of the most famous of these is 'The Cobb' and harbour (see below). Within the town itself is St Michaels Church, where Mary Anning is buried and where a stained glass window has been named after her. The church is set on a cliff overlooking much of the town. The next Mary Anning spot is the Philpot Museum, which is built on her birth place. The museum contains local artifacts and outside is a Coade Stone paving slab, reflecting another piece of local history as the material was invented and manufactured locally by Mrs Eleanor Coade. Continuing the theme linking Lyme Regis to fossils and Mary Anning, there is a dinosaur museum, called Dinosaurland, in the old congregational church where Mary Anning was batptised.

Alongside the River Lym (also called the River Buddle) is the Lynch Mill, a water mill dating from 1340, which has been lovingly restored. The water runs along a terrace or 'lynch' after which the mill is named. Also by the mill stream is the site of an old Leper Hospital and colony. This site now contains landscaped gardens and a small monument with a plaque describing the history of the hospital.

Festivals and Events
Lyme Regis holds a number of annual festivals, many of which again focus around the sea, fossils and Mary Anning. In August there is the Lyme Reggatta, a week of events to raise money for local charities. There is 'Mary Anning Day', and a new annual 'Lyme Regis Fossil Festival' runs in May with the support of the Natural History Museum of London. Finally, and probably most bizarre, is the 'Conger Cuddling' event run during the 'Lifeboat Week' to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Started in the 1970's, this involves two teams of 9 individuals standing on flowerpots being knocked off with a dead conger eel. Attracting around 3,000 people, it has been called the "most fun a person could have with a dead fish". As a result of recent protest the fish has now been replaced with a buoy.

The Cobb
'The Cobb' is the harbour wall of Lyme Regis. It has become a well loved and well known feature of the town. The wall protects the town from storms and allowed it to become a very important port in the 13C. Records from 1328 indicate it was then built from oak piles driven into the sea bed with boulders sunk between them. This structure was washed away in a storm in 1377. The next Cobb used mainly rough boulders to form the wall, and the first mortar was used at the end of the 18C. In 1820 The Cobb was completely rebuilt using Portland Stone. It was in this harbour Captain Sir Richard Spencer RN carried out his pioneering lifeboat design work after a great storm in 1824. By this time the size of the ships had grown so much that most of the trade moved from Lyme Regis, whose port was now too small, to Liverpool.

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