Filmed on location in Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis plays a major part in the romantic feature film, Ammonite.
Inspired by the life of world famous paleontologist, Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme Regis, the historical drama has been written and directed by Francis Lee (God’s Own County), and stars Oscar winning Kate Winslet in the title role opposite 4 time Oscar nominee Siaorse Ronan.
In 1800s England, acclaimed but unrecognized fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline.
With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother.
When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down.
Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship (See-Saw Films).
Ammonite was filmed on location in Lyme Regis West Dorset, the Jurassic Coast seaside town where the real Mary Anning worked and collected fossils in the early 1800s.
Those familiar with the town might spot some recognisable places in the film, including Bell Cliff Stairs, Broad St, Coombe St and the Cobb.
The winding Lyme streets underwent an extensive makeover to transport them back into Mary Anning’s time. At Bell Cliff, a 2 storey fake Georgian house front was erected outside and many buildings had artificial period fronts installed.
Coombe Street was also transformed with both the interior and exterior of businesses ML Gibson Studios and Tierra Kitchen made to resemble two stores from the 1800s and a stable yard was created.
Other scenes were shot at Eype Beach, where the leading actors enjoyed a stroll and a picnic and Charmouth Beach where a historic bathing machine prop was used.
Mary Anning’s remarkable discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time and provided evidence that influenced Darwin’s theory of evolution and the history of the Earth.
Known as the ‘greatest fossil hunter of all time’, Mary Anning was born into a poor family. As a child, she and her father would forage for fossils along the beach and then sell them to tourists on the on the shore to earn an income. In fact, Mary was the inspiration for the well known tongue twister ‘She Sells Sea Shells’.
Mary’s most famous discovery was made in 1811 when she discovered the body of an ichthyosaur but she went on make many other groundbreaking scienftifc discoveries including the first complete plesiosaur in 1823 followed by the first complete and still very rare Dimorphodon in 1828.
Despite Mary Annings astounding achievements in her field, she gained little credit due to her gender and social class which prevented her from joining the major scientific institutions of her time and was continuously overshadowed by her male counterparts.
It is only now, 200 years later that she is gaining the fame and recognition she deserves.
Fans of the film who wish to follow in Mary’s footsteps can soon enjoy a fossil-filled break to Lyme Regis and walk along the same very beach where Mary Anning made her first famous ichthyosaur discovery.
A great place to start is the Lyme Regis Museum, where you can visit the brand new £1.5 million Mary Anning wing and join a guided walk to hear all about the pioneering fossil hunter and explore the town as she knew it.
Then, it’s time to search for your own palaeontological treasure with a fossil hunting expedition either from the museum or a short way up the coast at Charmouth with the multi award winning Jurassic Coast Guides. Bookings are currently being taken for small private groups.
Don’t worry if you don’t succeed on your hunt, as Lyme Regis is full of lovely little independent shops and boutiques selling fossil memorabilia galore. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and support our local businesses.
If you are looking for places to stay in Lyme Regis, there are plenty of delightful properties to choose from.
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