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Dorset Map

Lyme Regis has been looking a bit sorry for itself for the last few years. In order to try to prevent it from slipping into the sea, extensive underpinning works were being undertaken, and there were holes being dug all over the town.

When I visited in 2011 the works had almost been completed, and Lyme had lost none of its charm.

It was originally two towns, Lyme Regis and Lyme Abbots, either side of the little River Lym, and the different character of the two towns is still apparent today.

In 774CE the West Saxon King Cynewulf gave the land along east side of the river to the monks of Sherborne Abbey where a higgledy-piggledy place grew up around the saltpans on the beach.

The King's town on the west side of the river was established under a Royal Charter granted by King Edward I in 1284, who laid out an new town with wide streets and regular plots. The increasing importance of Lyme as a port led to the building of its famous harbour wall, The Cobb.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries both halves of the town became the property of the crown but the locals hung on to the suffix Regis, for obvious reasons.

These days the town is probably most famous for the film of The French Lieutenant's Woman - with Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep; the shot of Streep on the Cobb in a storm having achieved iconic status.

It is also a well known centre for fossil hunting, and as a base for exploring the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.