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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Lyme Regis in the 16th century

Henry VIII's antiquary John Leland visited Lyme Regis in the 1530s or 1540s, and described it as "a praty market town set in the rootes of an high rokky hill down to the hard shore". He also described the town's artificial harbour, which even in those days was known as the Cobb. Rather than the solid stone structure of today, this consisted of timber piles enclosing loose boulders, as shown in the drawing which is based on a map made in 1539 (by courtesy of the British Museum).

The 16th century Cobb was a miracle of engineering for its time, and described by the Elizabethan chronicler Holinshed as "a great and costly jetty". It required constant maintenance, and in the 1620s Thomas Gerard described how stones to reinforce the Cobb were carried there buoyed up by empty wooden casks.

A scale model of the Cobb as it would have looked in Elizabethan times, made by David West, is on display in Lyme Regis Museum.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

New exhibition: Wool in the Lim Valley

Lyme Regis Museum’s new exhibition ‘Wool in the Lim Valley’ opens with a launch party on Friday October 19 at 6.30pm. Everyone is invited to drinks and free admission to see why the wool trade was so important to Lyme from medieval times to the mid-1800s.

From fleece to finished cloth, families of the Lim Valley – including their children – were involved in the production of wool. From the farms where sheep fleeces were packed into woolsacks, through the various processes of scouring, scribbling, combing, carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving and finishing, the people of Lyme and Uplyme contributed. Their workplaces were their homes, the watermills and, later, small factories along the River Lim.

The exhibition is curated by the museum’s local history experts Richard Bull and Graham Davies with help from Ken Gollop and Barbara Bull. Barbara will be demonstrating spinning and inviting everyone to ‘have a go’ during the launch party on Friday.

‘Wool in the Lim Valley’ runs until 29 November at Lyme Regis Museum: open every day during October, 10am to 5pm, and from the beginning of November open Wednesdays to Sundays, 11am to 4pm. Download Richard Bull’s research on this subject from the museum’s website. Printed copies are available from Lyme Regis Museum bookshop, telephone 01297 443370.

The photograph above shows the Lyme Round House – a wool drying tower – when it was still roofed around 1900 (picture Lyme Regis Museum).

Monday, 8 October 2012

Fossil Fish

Although best known for ammonites and ichthyosaurs, the rocks around Lyme Regis contain plenty of fossil fish as well. The ground floor gallery at the Museum is currently full of them! The picture above shows just one of the many display cases, containing impressive complete specimens as well as smaller fragments of the kind the casual fossil-hunter is more likely to come across.

The picture on the right shows a large shark fin spine that was found on Monmouth Beach more than 20 years ago. At the top you can see a bite mark on the spine, which may have been made by an ichthyosaur!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Museum events in October


  • Thursday 4 October 2.30pm at Woodmead Hall: Who do you think you are?,
    an interactive session with leading family-history tutor Jane Ferentzi-Sheppard. You're invited to bring along your laptop or iPad so that you can begin tracing your family tree there and then -- true audience participation! Refreshments from 2.30pm; session starts at 3.00pm. Organised by The Friends of Lyme Regis Museum. This event replaces the originally scheduled talk, "Egypt, Civilisation of the Sands" by Nicole Douek, which has had to be cancelled due to illness.
  • Tuesday 23 October 2.30pm at Woodmead Hall: Stone Circles of West Dorset, by Cecil Amor. Organised jointly with the Lyme Regis Society.

Fossil Walks

  • Monday 1 October 2012 11.15
  • Tuesday 2 October 2012 11.45
  • Wednesday 3 October 2012 12.15
  • Thursday 4 October 2012 12.45
  • Sunday 14 October 2012 09.30
  • Monday 15 October 2012 10.15
  • Tuesday 16 October 2012 11.00
  • Wednesday 17 October 2012 11.45
  • Thursday 18 October 2012 12.30
  • Friday 19 October 2012 13.15
  • Saturday 27 October 2012 09.00
  • Sunday 28 October 2012 09.00
  • Monday 29 October 2012 09.15
  • Tuesday 30 October 2012 09.45
  • Wednesday 31 October 2012 10.15

Mary Anning Walks

  • Saturday 6 October 2012 13.30
  • Saturday 13 October 2012 13.30
  • Saturday 27 October 2012 13.30

Rockpooling Walks

  • Friday October 5 14.15
  • Saturday October 20 15.00
  • Sunday October 21 15.45

To book a place on any of the guided walks, please contact us on