Lyme Regis Discovery Trail - Cultural Quarter
The historic Guildhall, Lyme Regis Museum and Marine Theatre are found in the heart of the town.
Lyme Regis Museum is built on the site of the birthplace and former home of the fossil hunter Mary Anning, whose work played an important part in the birth of geology as a science, a remarkable role for a woman in the early 19th century.
Built in 1901 and recently extended in 2017, this award-winning, fascinating and quirky museum holds a treasure trove of finds from Lyme’s geological and modern historical past.
The history of the Guildhall can be traced back as far as the Stuart period and the current Guildhall was rebuilt in 1887, incorporating original features such as the borough lock-up. The main chamber, with its curved ceiling and coat of arms, was once the local court and can today be enjoyed for weddings and civil ceremonies with views across the bay.
If you’re interested in the arts and music, be sure to visit the Marine Theatre. This little theatre by the sea has been at the centre of the community’s social and cultural life for over 125 years and boasts a vibrant range of entertainment, including live bands, film and live theatre screenings, comedy, professional and community theatre performances, festivals and events.
Points of interest
The history of the Guildhall can be traced back as far as the Stuart period. The main chamber with its curved ceiling and coat of arms was once the local court and the main body of the building, including the Mayor’s Parlour, was built in 1887 on the site of the town’s lock-up.
The Guildhall is where the council holds meetings, although it is also available to hire, primarily to community groups who can use the space for free.
Weddings are also held at the Guildhall, with space for up to 75 guests – please see the Town Council’s Weddings page for more information.
Lyme Regis Museum
Built on the site of Mary Anning’s home, Lyme Regis Museum stands in the heart of the town.
The building has great idiosyncratic charm. Built in 1902, it was commissioned by Thomas Philpot, a relative of fossil hunter Elizabeth Philpot who had worked with Mary Anning. The architect was George Vialls who also designed the Guildhall next door.
Following a chequered history, by 1991 the building was badly in need of repair. Largely thanks to a team of committed volunteers, a major refurbishment of the building and displays was carried out in the late 1990s. This has been followed by the construction of the Mary Anning Wing in 2017, with its new geology gallery and the Fine Foundation Learning Centre.
When the River Lim almost reaches the sea under the Bridge Street bridge, it becomes the River Buddle.
It was said that the river ran red with blood during the siege of Lyme Regis during the first English Civil War of 1644.
Gun Cliff extends east from the small car park at Cobb Gate and was home to the town's battery of defensive cannons from Elizabeth times. This area was completely rebuilt during Phase 1 of Lyme’s coastal protection scheme which was completed in 1995.
The new sea wall integrated the old and new sea walls between Cobbs Gate and Church Cliff and houses a sewage treatment plant, evident by the ventilation tower in front of the Marine Theatre and the huge double doors beneath that gives access to the facility.
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