"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 8 July 2013

Holiday - Lyme Regis (Saturday 29th June)

We've just spent a week on holiday in Uplyme about a mile from Lyme Regis on the Dorset/Devon border. We didn't arrive until about teatime on Friday 28th June (don't ask why!!!) so Saturday was the first full day of the holiday and we spent the day in Lyme Regis which bears the nickname of the "Pearl of Dorset". It really is a beautiful seaside town with so much to see and do and I now rather wish we had spent more time there during the holiday as there was so much we didn't see.

Lyme Regis is located on the Jurassic Coast - England's only Natural World Heritage site because of its geology which represents 185 million years of earth's history in just 95 miles. The rocks along this stretch of coastline record the Mesozoic Era comprising the Triassic Period (250 - 200 million years ago (East Devon), Jurassic Period (200 - 140 million years ago) and finishing with rocks from the Cretaceous Period (140 - 65 million years ago) along the Purbeck coast.

Even the street lights have decorations with a fossil theme!

The inevitable Herring Gulls!

The Harbour

This is Monmouth Beach named after the Duke of Monmouth (an illegitimate son of Charles II) who landed here to try and take the title from King James I. The attempt failed and many of his supporters were executed. 99 men from Lyme were arrested and came before the infamous Judge Jefferies at the Bloody Assizes and 12 were hanged on this beach on 12th September, 1685.

No visit to Lyme Regis could be complete without a walk along the harbour wall which is known as The Cobb. It must be Lyme Regis's most significant literary location being famous due to links with Jane Austen and John Fowles. Jane Austen visited the town in 1804 and one of the most important passages in "Persuasion" occurs when Louisa Musgrove slips on steps leading up to the Cobb. John Fowles lived in Lyme Regis and in his novel "The French Lieutenant's Woman" the story's heroine Sarah Woodruff spends all her spare time standing on the Cobb and staring out to sea.

These steps are known as Granny's Teeth!! and often portrayed as the steps Louisa in "Persuasion" fell down. However, they weren't built until 1816 after Jane Austen had completed the novel so perhaps the steps above are the ones she had in mind.

After lunch we boarded the "Neptune" for an hour's sightseeing tour along the coast where we got some great views of the coastal geology.

The Undercliff, a National Nature Reserve, which stretches from Lyme Regis to Axemouth in the East can be seen in this photo. The Undercliff is formed by various landslips that have occurred.

The rocks along this stretch of coast are from early on in the Jurassic Period when Dorset was just north of the Tropics and the Atlantic Ocean was only just beginning to form. The cliffs are mainly composed of rocks known as the Blue Lias with harder layers of clayer limestone and soft clay and silt. The layers of rock slope gently to the East indicating earth movements at a later stage.

This area of coastline (the highest on the East coast) is called Golden Cap. It is named after the cap of golden sandstone formed in the much more recent Cretaceous Period. These rocks lie on top of Jurassic rocks forming what is known as an "Unconformity" where there is a gap in the geological record in this case caused by uplift and erosion.

We then walked along the sea front and into the town itself. My first point of call where I could have spent not only hours of time but a small fortune too!!

Seventeenth Century Guild Hall

Emily and Brian went off to explore the town and David and I visited the Lyme Regis (or Philpotts Museum). This is well worth a visit and contains exhibits not only about geology and fossils but also the history of the town and various famous people with connections to the town such as Jane Austen and John Fowles. The museum is built on the site that originally contained the house where Mary Anning (1799 to 1847), the famous fossil hunter, was born. She initially collected fossils with her father and brother and continued after her father died setting up a fossil shop. With no formal education she made important discoveries - in 1824 she she discovered the first complete Plesiosaur and later the first complete Dimorphodon. She corresponded with many famous geologists living at the time who visited her shop and bought fossils from her.

The Iron Age Holcombe Mirror dating from the fist half of the first century AD

The Old Mill Uplyme

Ammonite - Paracoronicera charlesi from the Lower Lias Lyme Regis ~ 190 million years old

Another famous author - Beatrix Potter visited the town on holiday in April 1904 and some illustrations in the "Tale of Little Pig Robinson" were based on Lyme Regis

To return to the present! I must just say Congratulations and Well Done to Andy Murray - what an outstanding achievement and what a wonderful role model he is.


Pete said...

A really good, informative blog!

Countryside Tales said...

Lyme is one of my favourite places and we try to get there every year. Lovely to see your photos of it.

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - Many thanks :) Have some churches coming up for you although sadly one was a very fleeting visit :(

Countryside Tales - Thank you - we shall definitely return. Really beautiful there. I have wanted to go for years due to the amazing geology and fossils :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post of what looks like a beautiful and interesting place :-)

Toffeeapple said...

Crikey, geography, geology, history and literature in one post, fantastic! Thank you, I am now better informed than I was yesterday. I hope I can remember most of it.

Lou Mary said...

Really interesting post :) Looks like you had a wonderful trip! Your various herring gull photos are great! Shame they are hated by so many people!

Em Parkinson said...

What a lovely tour of a wonderful place. Haven't been for a few years and Ann was definitely on my mind. Persuasion is my favourite of JA's novels.

Wendy said...

I haven't been to Lyme for about 30 years, so I loved seeing it again in your lovely photos. Close friends of mine go fossil hunting there every year without fail, it does sound a fascinating thing to do.

Ragged Robin said...

David Turner - Many thanks - yes its an absolutely fascinating place - so much of interest :)

Toffeeapple - Many thanks :) so glad you enjoyed :) It was that wonderful to have so much geology, history, and literary connections on the holiday that I didn't miss the lack of wildlife watching!

Lou Mary - Many thanks - yes had a great time :) It is a shame so many people detest gulls - I find them fascinating.

Em Parkinson - Many thanks - so glad you enjoyed. Must admit I like P and P the best - but Persuasion a close second :)

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thank you - so pleased you enjoyed revisiting LR through my post :) Fossil hunting is great fun - I used to do it on the Isle of Wight. This year Charnmouth :) It is so awesome to pick up a fossil and realise you are the first person to see something that is millions of years old :)

SeagullSuzie said...

I dont know what has happened to my comment. I almost missed this post but it's lovely and just great photos too. Coast did a good story on Mary Anning and it was very interesting. Love the fossils and the herring gulls of course :)

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Sorry Suzie I hope I haven't missed your comment but thanks for posting it again :) So glad you enjoyed. I think I may have missed the Coast episode on Mary Anning - what an inspirational woman! The Herring Gulls were very photogenic :)