A short history of
Lyme Regis
The history of Lyme Regis, civil war and the town as it is now plus modern events.

A short history of Lyme Regis,
written by a living Historian, Richard J. Fox M.B.E. who has had the benefit of handed down word of mouth memories of the times as well as the written records of his past peers who themselves wrote factual accounts of current affairs. He also gives a warm introduction to what goes on in modern times.
From Royalty, poets and painters in Tudor times,  to Carnival, Regatta, Jazz  and  a Motor Cycle Rally in modern times.
History of Dorset, South West, UK
History od South West, Dorset, UK
The first written record of Lyme Regis was in 774AD when the West Saxon King Cynewulf gave the land along the river Lym to the monks of Sherborne Abbey, to establish a sea salt manufacturing industry. However man had inhabited this area for thousands of years. The Iron Age forts of Pilsdon Pen, Lamberts Castle, Blackberry Castle and Coney Castle lend testament to those early ancestors. 

The town was known by the Romans as "Lym Supra Mare". A Roman Villa has been found at the nearby village of Harcombe. Lyme takes its name from the river Lym; Lym meaning a torrent of water.

The Town with its southerly aspect on the English Channel nestles in the Coombe formed by the river valley; it is an ideal tourist centre, flanked to the east by the Majestic Golden Cap at 618 ft., the highest Cliff on the south coast of England. To the west the famous Under Cliff, its rough, unhindered undergrowth camouflaging landslips and primeval beauty. 

For those with a hardy inclination the Nature reserve walk to the town of Seaton (via Axmouth) is worth considering. 

Several other walks will take you over cliffs and along beaches.

Golden Gap loved by poets, painters and writers.
History of fossils
Lyme Regis stands on a layer of Blue Lias, a soft sedimentary rock formed in the Jurassic period, approximately 180 million years old. It is in this rock that the world famous fossils are found. 

Mary Anning, born here in 1799, was the first person to excavate a fossil ichthyosaur. 

Regular fossil hunting expeditions are conducted by experienced guides, including the celebrated Dr. Colin Dawes.

Lyme Regis boasts a turbulent past, its most well known feature being the Cobb Harbour. It has been a trading centre since medieval times. In the Tudor era it was one of the most important Ports on the south coast its ships sailing to most parts of the then known world.
Modern visitors are captivated by the towns' simple, unique charms. Broad Street, the main thoroughfare, offers a wide range of shops, public houses and hotels all jostling for supremacy, as it slopes steeply to the sea, each building relying on its neighbour for mutual support. The town has been moulded by the changing needs of successive generations. 

By 1750 it had become a popular sea spa frequented by Royalty, Poets, Writers and Painters. Among them, Henry Fielding, famed for his attempted abduction of the local 16-year-old orphan Sarah Andrew. 

Turner painted here, as did Whistler who recorded the local Blacksmith on canvas as well as painting his most well known "The Little Rose of Lyme". 

John Gould, the equally famous bird illustrator was born here. 

Jane Austin wrote her novel "Persuasion" after her visit in 1803-4. 

The well known Sculptress Elenor Coade lived at Belmont; a beautiful period listed house now the home of the author John Fowles. His book, "The French Lieutenant's Woman" was filmed on location here in 1979. 

Amongst the current local residents who deserve their international reputation are the Artistic Water Colourist Mr. Brian Long and his son in law Mr. Andy Wood. 

The observant visitor will be fascinated to walk the narrow streets and seek the discreet wall plaques displayed on many of the buildings recording people of interest and historic events in the town's turbulent past.

Tours of the town.
Royalty having tea in Tudor times.
Those with the desire to venture onto the water will find experienced fishermen or boatmen at the Cobb harbour happy to embark them on a deep sea fishing trip or shorter mackerel fishing trip. While on the harbour, a visit to the Marine Aquarium or the lifeboat Station is always rewarding. 

In summer the town, whilst bustling with tourist's, one can still find individual basking in its tranquillity. Many enjoy the walk along the just under a mile long Marine Parade or sunbathing and swimming from the sandy beaches in the unpolluted, clear, clean sea water. (We do not allow untreated effluent to reach our beaches). 

Your stay would not be complete without visiting :- 

The Philpot Museum. 

The ancient Guildhall.

Dinosaur Land, a privately run enterprise showing fossils and other local finds. 

The Parish Church dedicated to St Michael the Ark Angel. The building dates back to the Norman's around 1100AD. 

We also have a Catholic Church and a Baptist Church. All are well attended by us God fearing mortals. 

Although a town of only 2500 persons, Lyme Regis still has its original cinema "The Regent" showing up to date, recently released films. 

The local centre of secondary education is "The Woodroffe School" with up to 1000 pupils, the school is proud of its madrigal group.

Lyme is twinned with the town of St. Georges, Bermuda.

Bermuda was founded by a Mayor of Lyme, Admiral Sir George Somers. He was shipwrecked on Bermuda in 1609. A commemoration parade takes place each year on the 28th July with the Town Crier of Lyme and the Crier of St. Georges playing rolls.

You can find a link to Bermuda here.




In June the town hosts the start of the Annual coast to coast motor cycle rally, over 500 Vintage and Classic motor cycles can be viewed before their departure.


This is held during the first weekend in July. It has acquired an international reputation with many renowned Jazz Bands playing.


This takes place in July. There are many aerobatics and aquatic events including the breath taking display of the "RAF RED ARROWS". Lyme Regis is the only town in the world with its unique game of CONGER EEL cuddling. Loads of events for children.

Visit the lifeboat station here.

The Lifeboat

During mid August. Plenty of activities for the younger generation. The Regatta week culminates with a Grand Carnival Parade and Firework Display. 




The Town Silver Band give regular concerts on the Marine Parade. The Junior Band takes part in parades through the town and recently played at the handicapped Olympics in the United States of America.

The Town boasts a popular Football Club, Cricket Club, Sailing Club, Golf Club, Power Boat Club and a Bowling Club. 

In all cases, visitors are welcome, if you have a team covering any event - challenge us! 

In the winter the Dramatic, Operatic and Pantomime Societies put on shows at the Marine Theatre.

This page has been written by our local eminent historian - Richard J. Fox M.B.E.