© Simon Emmett
Lyme Regis Discovery Trail - The Cobb
Take a walk along its monumental walls to unearth its rich historic past.
The earliest known mention of the Cobb is in 1294, though it probably existed before Lyme received a royal charter in 1284 from Edward I. For centuries, the Cobb consisted of huge rounded boulders, called ‘cow-stones’, which were tied to barrels and floated into place between massive wooden walls.
The Cobb has been destroyed or severely damaged by storms several times. It was swept away in 1377 which led to the destruction of 50 boats and 80 houses. Until 1756, the Cobb was detached from the land at high tide. When a bad storm in 1817 damaged the Cobb, it was virtually rebuilt using Portland Admiralty Roach Stone.
For centuries Lyme was a major Channel port, attracting ships and traders from all over Europe. It enjoyed a long heyday between 1500 and 1700 with far-flung trade to Africa, the West Indies and the Americas, benefiting rich merchants and sea captains. Lyme’s Sir George Somers, famous for discovering Bermuda and rescuing the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, is said to have inspired William Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest.
The Cobb has more recently been made famous by Jane Austen in Persuasion and by John Fowles, who lived in Lyme for 40 years, in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
Points of interest
A lifeboat has been stationed at the Cobb in Lyme Regis since 1825.
In late 1996, construction commenced of the current B class boathouse on the Cobb and was completed in July 1997. A new Atlantic 75 lifeboat (B-74) Pearl of Dorset was placed on service on 29 September.
The Lifeboat has since had an upgrade in 2012 when the new station Atlantic 85 B-857 Spirit of Loch Fyne came into service.
Granny’s Teeth are a set of curious steps which lead from the lower wall to the upper wall of the Cobb. In the 1995 fil of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, there was an important scene when the character Louisa Musgrove is injured when jumping from the steps on the Cobb.
Do take extra care when climbing up and down the steps!
The eastern section of the Cobbs ends with the Victorian Pier. It’s so-called after the Princess Victoria landed here with her mother in 1833. You’ll find many local boat trips departing from the steps of the Victoria Pier and the jetty boat gives a panoramic view back to the seafront and town.
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