Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is a coastal market town located in West Dorset on Lyme Bay, 5 miles south east of Axminster. Its name is derived from the River Lym upon which it is situated. In the 19th century it became a notable watering-place and resort and in 1895 was described as having "streets lighted with gas and well paved". One of Lyme’s best known features is its sea wall, known as ‘The Cobb’ which dates from at least 1328, when it was mentioned in a document as having been damaged by storms. ‘The Cobb’ has been included in literature and was mentioned in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ and John Fowles ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman.’

The parish church is St Michael the Archangel (dedicated in 1405) and the registers date from 1538 (although there is a gap between 1572 and 1653). Within the town are several non-conformist places of worship including the Catholic church of Sts Michael & George, Poulett House Chapel, a Congregational Chapel, a Wesleyan Chapel, a Bethany Chapel and meeting rooms for the Brethren. The Baptist Church is first mentioned on 15 Oct 1653 and its people likely first met in each other’s house, such as Elizabeth Goodman’s in Silver Street.

Lyme Regis Parish Church (St Michael the Archangel)
©2016 Dorset OPC/Jon Baker

The municipal cemetery is located 3 miles from the town centre. There were also almshouses, a cottage hospital, several hotels, a Masonic Lodge, the headquarters of the 1st Dorsetshire Voluntary Artillery and several schools. In the 2011 Census the town's parish and the electoral ward had a population of 3,671.

Bridge Street circa 1918

In the 13th century, Lyme developed as one of the major British ports. A Royal Charter was granted by King Edward I in 1284 when 'Regis' was added to the town's name. The charter was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1591. In 1644, during the English Civil War, Parliamentarians withstood an eight-week siege of the town by Royalist forces under Prince Maurice. The Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis at start of the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. On 11 May 1844 a large fire destroyed several notable buildings, including the Customs House, Cups Hotel and the George Inn.

The town was served by a branch railway opened in 1903 and initially operated by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR). Passenger use declined in the years following the Second World War, and only summer weekends remained busy. When the report The Reshaping of British Railways (often referred to as the "Beeching Axe") was produced, the line was included for closure, and this was implemented on 29 November 1965. The main station building at Lyme Regis was wooden, and after closure it was dismantled and re-erected at Alresford station, on the Watercress Line in Hampshire.

Lyme Regis is noted for its fossils and its cliffs are part of the Jurassic Coast – a World Heritage Site. One of Lyme Regis’ most renowned fossil hunters was Mary Anning (1799–1947), who discovered the first ichthyosaur dinosaur fossil in Lyme Regis’ Blue Lias cliffs. Mary’s baptism can be found in the independent church records (the Congregational Church itself is now the Dinosaurland Fossil Museum and her burial stone can still be seen on the left side of St. Michael the Archangel’s churchyard.

The new Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Lyme Regis is Theresa Rose
Please place the words 'OPC Lyme Regis' as your subject for e-mails
 (click on Theresa's name above to generate a pre-addressed email)
Theresa is based in the vicinity of Lyme Regis and is planning to provide further transcriptions for the Parish over time

Census 1841 Census [Pearl Blanking]
1851 Census
1861 Census District 2, District 3(part 1), District 3(part 2), Vessels in Harbour [Jacqui Bowen]
1871 Census [Ron Adams & Lynne Radford]
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
Parish Registers
Baptisms  1813-1814 [Theresa Rose]
Marriages 1653-1753 [Philimores] [Kim Parker]
Marriages 1813-1820, 1850, 1910-1919 [Theresa Rose]
Monumental Inscriptions for St Michael the Archangel Church [External Site]
Non Conformist Records Coombe Street Independent Chapel Baptisms 1775-1817
St Michael & St George RC Monumental Inscriptions index
Other Records Will of Richard Davidge [d. 1605] [Mike Russell]
Will of John Hingeston [d. 1831] [Ros Dunning]
Will of Amelia Anning [d. 1858] [Ros Dunning]
Maps The 1891 Ordnance Survey maps of the parish can be seen at the old-maps site, just enter 'Lyme Regis' under place search.
Records held at the Dorset History Centre
Christenings 1543-1996. Marriages 1653-1972. Burials 1653-1958.

The Cobb
©2016 Dorset OPC/Jon Baker

Lyme Regis Guildhall
©2016 Dorset OPC/Jon Baker

Lyme Regis Parish Church
©2016 Dorset OPC/Jon Baker


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