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Posted 99 weeks ago

LYME REGIS and the ROYAL FAMILY through the ages.

Lyme Regis has had a somewhat rocky not always positive relationship with many of the monarchs of the day. Edward 1st this great warrior king loved it, especially for it’s ship building.  He ordered an 120 oar galleon to be built in Lyme and a Manor House to be built for his new French Queen, which gave us the ‘Regis.’  At that time a royal residence, even if the Queen never visited, qualified Lyme for this honour. He gave Lyme a very generous charter which included among other things the right to send 2 MPs to parliament, which lasted until the Great Reform Act of 1832! 

Queen Mary, a Catholic queen, described Lyme as ‘a heretic town’ because of the stubborn puritanism of it’s citizens. She refused to give back any of the dues from the Cobb which all previous monarchs had agreed for it’s maintenance and upkeep.

Unsurprisingly, given this Puritan background, when the Civil War broke out in the 1640s Lyme chose the side of Parliament which was puritan against Charles 1st. In 1644 the town resisted a royalist siege conducted by Prince Maurice, the young nephew of the king, who after 8 weeks was obliged to withdraw without success, despite having boasted on the first day he would walk through Lyme before breakfast.  The women of Lyme played a significant role during the siege.  Some fought on the defenses and many more were involved in the refueling of muskets, which proved decisive. Lyme had a very cosy relationship with the Commonwealth government before the Restoration in 1660,when ,of course, they were no longer the flavour of the month.

Worse was to come. In 1685 the King of England was James11 who was catholic leaning, so, of course, not popular in Lyme or indeed most of the West Country. James, however had a nephew, the Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of the previous king Charles 11.  He was in voluntary exile in Holland.  One fine June morning in 1685 Monmouth turned up on the west of the Cobb with three ships and an army and started what became known as the Monmouth rebellion, in which some 30% of Lyme’s male population participated.  It was a disaster.  Monmouth was defeated at Sedgemoor in the last battle on English soil.  The town of Lyme Regis suffered terribly under the repression that followed under the vengeful king’s Lord Chief Justice, Judge Jeffries. Twelve men from Lyme were sent down from the Taunton assizes to be cruelly executed on the beach that Monmouth landed, now of course known as Monmouth Beach. One was just a fisherman from Charmouth who had rowed up to the boats to sell fish, as he did with any large vessels entering the harbour.  He would not have known Monmouth from Adam, but this did not wash with Judge Jeffries.

Fortunately relations have improved since that time.  In 1856 the future Edward V11, a boy of 14 visited the town on the last stage of a walk around the southern sea coast with his tutor and a groom from the Palace.  It was supposed to be incognito but by the time he reached Lyme everybody knew this was the Prince of Wales.  The paparazzi of the day were out in force and the Mayor wanted to hold a reception.  The palace issued a command that a carriage be made available to take him back to London right away.  He spent one night in the Lion Hotel in Broad Street.  In the morning he made a brief visit to the Cobb and departed in the carriage.  The hour that he left the Lion Hotel became the Royal Lion Hotel and now has a magnificent Edward V11 suite to celebrate this even,t in an age when Lyme was successfully rebuilding itself through tourism.

Posted 152 weeks ago


At 8.30 yesterday the 21st of April many of us residents and visitors gathered in Theatre Square to be entertained by the Town Band and the hospitality of the Theatre bar while we waited for the lighting of our Beacon on Back Beach by the Mayor.  At 8.50pm as scheduled, the Charmouth beacon illuminated the night sky and we made our way over to Back Beach to watch the main event in Lyme.

Beacons were used in the past as part of sea defences, notably from 1799 prepared and ready for lighting to warn of the expected Napoleonic invasion.  Fortunately this was was scuppered by Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. 

In a more sinister use of beacons wreckers along the Cornish coast in the 18th century used the light to lure ships on to rocks from where they could be plundered. Yesterday, however, was a joyful opportunity to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.


One of the joys of starting a new season is being able to introduce visitors to new events or discoveries. For example, Belmont, the home of Eleanor Coade, the 18th century entrepreneur (see earlier post)and author John Fowles has now been beautifully restored by the Landmark Trust. It is well worth the walk up Pound Street to see what a beautiful job they have done.

Browsing Archive: April, 2016


Posted by Chris Lovejoy on Tuesday, April 26, 2016,
Sir Francis Walsingham was both Elizabeth1st's secretary from 1572 and MP for LymeRegis in the early years of her reign.  He was a  vehement anti-catholic who had a network of spies.  His spy in Lyme Regis was a man named Arthur Gregory who had a genius for opening letters and resealing them, which of course, in those day involved repairing the broken seal.  It is likely that he supplied at least some of the evidence to Walsingham of the alleged plot which led to the execution of Mary Queen o...
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Posted by Chris Lovejoy on Thursday, April 21, 2016,
When Sir George Somers, Mayor of Lyme Regis, Buccaneer, adventure seaman set sail for Virginia in 1609 he could hardly have imagined what would have happened.  A friend and business partner of Sir Walter Raleigh he was leading a fleet of 7 ships and 2 pinnacles (supply ships) to resupply the colonies Raleigh had set up in Virginia.  A storm blew up, ships were scattered.  His vessel, 'Sea Venture' was wrecked on the reefs of Bermuda.  Successfully, they managed to reach the shore without a si...
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James Mcneill Whistler in Lyme

Posted by Chris Lovejoy on Wednesday, April 6, 2016,
Whistler the American painter, wit and controversialist, stayed in Lyme for a year in the 1895. He did some beautiful sketches and portraits in Lyme, notably 'The Little Rose of Lyme Regis' - Rosie Rendall the 8 year old daughter of the town grocer and of Sam Govier, a blacksmith who had a forge near his studio in Broad Street.  The originals are in the Boston Museum of Art, but copies can be seen in our Museum here in Lyme.  He was certainly a brilliant painter and  great wit, rivalling some...
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Chris Lovejoy
Chris Lovejoy
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