We’re just back home after spending a week on holiday in Lyme Regis- an attractive small seaside town on the south coast in Dorset – just as it’s close to the border with Devon. Its our second visit, having stayed there four years ago.
We were quite lucky with the weather – we had sunshine every day with no rain to speak of – and although we took it relatively easy, we kept ourselves busy with fossil hunting, walking along the south west coastal path and hanging around the sea front and harbour.
The town has literary connections, appearing in Persuasion, by Jane Austen and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles who lived and worked in the town (and for a while was also the curator of the town’s Philpott Museum). Personally I’m not a fan of Jane Austen’s Georgian “chick lit” but John Fowles’ modernist novel is a favourite of mine. The Cobb, the distinctive,sinuous harbour wall, features in both novels and also in the 1981 film of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the memorable opening scenes of which has Meryl Streep, wrapped in a hooded cape, standing on the edge of the Cobb in stormy seas.
The coast surrounding the town, and, indeed the land on which it is built, is made up of very unstable rocks – mainly shales, clays and mudstones – which are very susceptible to avalanche and landslips.
The rocks in the cliffs are full of fossils which end up on the beach following landslides after the sea washes the mud away. As during our previous visit we went on a fossil walk organised by the local museum and, once again, it was one of the highlights of the holiday.
Lyme became a highly fashionable resort during the Georgian and Regency period, which is reflected in the architecture, and there were plenty of interesting buildings to look at.
Belmont House on Pound Street at the junction with Cobb Road. A former owner was Eleanor Coade (1733–1821), the proprietor of a company which manufactured a type of artificial “reconstituted” stone called “Coade stone” which was used to manufacture decorative elements and statues and the facade of the house is embellished with decorative features made from her product. Very durable and resistant to weathering, it was very popular during the Georgian period.
The last resident was the author John Fowles. After his death it fell into disrepair but it has since been restored by the Landmark Trust and can now be rented for holidays.
This time, as we booked late, we couldn’t get a cottage or flat with a sea view, but managed to find a Georgian style cottage by the river at Jordan, just a few minutes walk down to the sea shore via Mill Green and Coombe Street.
This stained glass window installed in the wall between the dining room and lounge was a particularly attractive feature
It was a good, relaxing holiday. But we kept ourselves busy, so plenty to write up!