Lets move to Lyme Regis
PUBLISHED: 16:40 25 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 20 February 2013
Edward Griffiths visits 'The Pearl of Dorset', famous for its Jurassic coastline, glorious countryside, fresh seafood and ichthyosaurus
Lets move to... Lyme Regis
Edward Griffiths visits The Pearl of Dorset, famous for its Jurassic coastline, glorious countryside, fresh seafood and ichthyosaurus
John Lello, former History Lecturer at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, says of Lyme Regis, Climatically, the position of the surrounding hills makes the weather distinctive, and the tilt of the land also has a moderating influence. The temperate weather has also helped tourism, and made Lyme a pleasant town for people in their retirement. But the warm climate also attracts younger people to work, build and sail boats, go fishing, study (especially geology), or to paint and write. Inspiration is all around, with fabulous views from the town centre, enticing shops for artists materials, and art galleries to show how its done. In the town, along the promenade and near The Cobb, theres a good selection of friendly pubs, excellent hotels and B&Bs, top-of-the-range restaurants and traditional tea-shops, and a several real seaside fish-and-chip shops. Lyme has some excellent schools, and the Church of St Michael the Archangel perched near the cliff-top. Rubbing shoulders with the busy Tourist Information Centre is the Marine Theatre where entertainment is widely varied and ever-changing.
When 12-year-old Mary Anning discovered a complete ichthyosaurus skeleton in the Lyme Regis cliffs in 1811, not only did the find help ease her familys desperate hardship it also started her lifelong passion for fossil hunting.
What can I get for my money?
The current housing market in Lyme Regis is very buoyant, with a wide range of property in and around the town. A single-bedroom flat in Uplyme is typically around 185,000, while a five-bedroom property with landscaped gardens in nearby Rousdon is around 745,000. In Lyme itself, a two-bedroom flat on Marine Parade is about 295,000 and three/four-bedroom semi-detached houses near the town centre are in the range 235,00 to 345,000. Although a five-bedroom modern house on the edge of Lyme is about 560,000, a four-bedroom house with extensive grounds and panoramic views of Lyme Bay can command around 695,000.
Could you live here?
Set in the rolling parkland of the Rousdon Estate, West House is a substantial wing of a Grade II Listed Victorian coastal mansion (now divided into six separate houses) once owned by the Peek family. The accommodation, arranged over five floors, retains many original features such as the ornate Georgian marble fireplace depicting sea gods and cherubs in the drawing room. There is a large kitchen/dining room with Aga and walk-in pantry, en-suite master bedroom, a second bedroom with en-suite shower, a family bathroom and two further bedrooms. There is also a cellar, wine store, boot room, garage/workshop and car port. Residents have access to walks in the extensive communal grounds, a private beach and also to the famous Undercliff coastal footpath. The Rousdon village store is nearby and Lyme Regis is just 2 miles away. West House is on the market with Martin Diplock for 750,000. For details call 01297 445500.
The Woodroffe School in Uplyme Road is a thriving mixed secondary school of around 1,000 pupils situated above Lyme Regis. The sixth form has approximately 180 students and the school offers a combination of the traditional and the innovative. Contact 01297 442232, www.woodroffe.dorset.sch.uk.
St Michaels Church of England Voluntary Aided School in Kings Way is a mixed primary school with a complement of around 142 pupils aged between four and eleven. Contact 01297 442623 or www.stmichaelslyme.dorset.sch.uk.
Mrs Ethelstons Church of England School is a mixed primary school in Pound Lane, Uplyme, with around 150 pupils. Contact 01297 442210. The Lyme Regis Playgroup is based in the Woodhead Halls at Lyme Regis Leisure Centre (contact 01297 445365). There is also the Uplyme Pre-school, which meets in Uplyme Village Hall (contact 01297 444373).
A major attraction of this delightful and historic town is Marguerite Chapmans Bookshop in Broad Street. Its unusual frontage was used in the film The French Lieutenants Woman. The Pelly Gallery in Broad Street has many paintings of local scenes to grace the homes of people moving to Lyme or as souvenirs for art-loving visitors. Also in Broad Street, The Toby Jug stocks decorative furnishings, mirrors and a wide range of oak furniture. With its reputation as a hot spot for fossil hunting, Lyme Regis has more fossil shops than any other town in Dorset; check out Mikes Minerals and Fossils in Drakes Way off Broad Street and The Lyme Regis Fossil Shop in Bridge Street. There are also several tempting pasty, pie and cake shops including the award-winning Town Mill bakery in Mill Lane based in a 600-year-old mill with a working waterwheel. On Marine Parade is The Old Watch House, a local fishmonger where most of the fish, crab and lobster has travelled barely 100 yards from the fishing boats.
Out and About
With its beautiful World Heritage Site Jurassic coastline and superb views over Lyme Bay, its not surprising that there are plenty of outdoor things to do both on and by the water in this pretty seaside town.
There are a wide range of deep-sea angling trips available from The Cobb, mostly targeting cod, conger and skate, as well as shorter mackerel trips around Lyme Bay. There are also regular groups of anglers fishing from the beach and The Cobb. Lyme Regis Sea Angling Club is based at The Cobb end of Marine Parade (contact 01297 445949). The nearby Tackle Box angling supplies shop stocks everything you will need. Booking information 01297 445175.
Newcomers to Lyme Regis may not be aware of the local Jurassic Coast cliffs propensity for landslips and mudflows, so the urge to hunt for fossils should be tempered with caution. Get your eye in by joining local professional collector Brandon Lennon, and his geologist father Ian, on their regular Fossil Walks. Contact www.lymeregisfossilwalks.com.
Probably unique along the Dorset coast, you can learn boat-building or woodworking skills at the Boat Building Academy at Monmouth Beach. The Academys training courses are hands-on, taught by experts and vary from a day to 38 weeks. Contact 01297 444545 and www.boatbuildingacademy.com.
Sport and Leisure
The Lyme Regis Bowls Club at Monmouth Beach invites visitors to play bowls on their top-class green (contact lymeregisbowlsclub.co.uk). The Lyme Regis Golf Club on Timber Hill is one of the finest golf courses in the South West, enjoying coastal views towards Portland Bill and overlooking Lyme Regis town (details 01297 442963 or www.lymeregisgolfclub.co.uk).
The little Lyme Regis Walkabout booklet by Colin Chapman and Peter Clayton is a cornucopia of information, with amusing titles like The Inevitable or Compulsory Walk. Pick up a copy before exploring the town. The Undercliff Nature Reserve and Lymes section of the South West Coast Path attract walkers from miles around, and the Riverside Walk follows the River Lym through the town.
The Marine Aquarium on The Cobb shows the local fish and marine life of the Jurassic Coast and there are talks on the changing biodiversity of Lyme Bay. For more information, contact 01297 444230 or visit www.lymeregismarineaquarium.co.uk.
The Parish Church of St Michael the Archangel perches on the cliff-top overlooking the town and is the final resting place of local fossil-collecting pioneer and paleontologist Mary Anning (1799-1847) who has a stained-glass window dedicated to her. To discover more about this extraordinary woman visit the Lyme Regis Museum (open daily) which has many displays including Marys ichthyosaur and information about the towns illustrious past, including an exhibition about Jane Austen who stayed here several times in the early 1800s and also set part of her novel Persuasion here (contact 01297 443370 or www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk).
The Marine Theatre in Church Street is a traditional seaside theatre hosting plays, music, dance, antiques and craft fairs; it also offers ballroom dancing lessons (contact 01297 442394 or www.marinetheatre.com).
Former local resident John Fowles most famous novel, The French Lieutenants Woman, was set and subsequently filmed in Lyme Regis with Meryl Streeps caped and hooded double standing perilously near the end of the storm-lashed Cobb.
In the maze of narrow streets that are a major part of Lymes distinctive character, youll find some delightful restaurants and cafs, especially in Coombe Street, around Town Mill behind the lower town, and in Silver Street above the town. In Broad Street, there are many hotels and inns with excellent restaurants, tea-rooms, food stores with their own cafs, and an enticing delicatessen. There are tea-shops along Marine Parade, and at The Cobb end of Marine Parade you can enjoy good bar meals at the 400-year-old Royal Standard Inn and the Harbour Inn, both of which stand on the old road between the harbour and Cobb Gate. Right at the end, at the Cobb Square terminus of the summertime park-and-ride bus, the Cobb Arms also serves excellent bar meals. Lyme Regis has attracted the likes of celebrity chef and food writer Mark Hix whose restaurant, Hix Oyster and Fish House, on Cobb Road enjoys superb views across the bay (contact 01297 446 910 or www.hixoysterandfishhouse.co.uk).
Annual events in Lyme Regis include Thanksgiving Day on 16 June to commemorate the end of the Civil War. Parliament decreed a day of celebration and prayer in the town to commemorate the Royalist Forces unsuccessful siege. The locals continue the tradition by dressing in clothes of the period and parading through the streets. The Lyme Regis Jazz Festival (2-4 July) has a dozen or more bands performing at various venues around town; tickets from Lyme Regis TIC. During Lifeboat Week (24 July 1 August) the fun is put into fundraising with music nearly every night, fireworks and military displays, swimming races in the bay, sandcastle and sand sculpture competitions, childrens crab fishing competition and guided tours of the Lifeboat Station. For further information call South West Fundraising and Communications Office on 01752 850680. Finally the Annual Regatta and Carnival Week (7-15 August) is nine action-packed days of family fun in and around town, concluding with a colourful Carnival Procession on Saturday 14 August.
For more information on all events in Lyme Regis contact Tourist Information in Church Street,
01297 442138 and www.lymeregis.org.