Lyme Regis - the birthplace of Mary Anning
An October exploration Part 1
Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast
One of my favourite places on the south coast of England is Lyme Regis. Situated on the Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis rises upwards from the sea and walking uphill is compulsory! I like to visit this quaint town whenever I need some sea air.
The town has a long history and many interesting, beautiful buildings and features. This area is known for its fossils; in Lyme Regis, several shops sell them. If you want to try fossil hunting, you can find them in the rocks along the shoreline. If you don’t mind risking spraining an ankle by walking over the rocks at Monmouth Beach, you will surely see some. If your legs can withstand it, you will reach the Ammonite Pavement at low tide, the only type of its kind. This is a flatter area where ammonites are clearly visible.
More about fossils and ammonites later. Monmouth Beach will be in a follow-up article.
Back to the history of Lyme Regis. The town can trace its roots back to Saxon times. It is recorded in the Domesday Book 1086. The town takes its name from the River Lym, or Lim, flowing through it. The Regis part was added in 1284 when a Royal Charter was granted by King Edward l. In 1591, the charter was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth l. The town is not large and has a population of around 4000, which swells considerably in the tourist season.
I will split this article into several parts, as the extra words will be worth it. For this part of the account of my visit in mid-October, let’s start at the eastern tip on the seafront. A lot of work has been done here to prevent erosion. The cliffs on this part of England’s coast are very soft and are subject to collapse. Please don’t get too close to the bottom of them or stand on the edge at the top. My first stop is to take a look and photograph the statue of Mary Anning.
Who was Mary Anning?
Mary Anning was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 in a house on the site of what is now the Lyme Regis Museum. Her family were religious dissenters, Protestants and poor. The record is unclear, but there were nine or ten children, and only Mary and her brother Joseph reached adulthood.
Her father, Richard, was a cabinet maker and an amateur fossil collector. Mary loved to help him collect the fossils. As a little girl, I can imagine the fun Mary would have had with her dad on the beach, spending her time examining and breaking rocks for those intriguing fossils. Although poor, Mary had been taught to read and write with the help of her Sunday school.
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