Category Archives: Events

Events organised by the Society for its members and the public

Belmont – History and Future Plans

Belmont is one of Lyme’s most iconic houses. Built in the late 18th Century, and standing on the corner of Cobb Road and Pound Street, it has been the home of two the town’s most famous residents: Eleanor Coade and John Fowles.

Following Fowles’ death in 2005, the house was acquired by The Landmark Trust who intend to restore it, slightly controversially, to its prime as an 18th Century seaside villa. What are their plans, when will they be accomplished and what has happened in years past?

The Lyme Regis Society has arranged for Landmark Trust historian, Caroline Stanford to talk about the house’s history, the Trust’s plans for its restoration and the progress to date. The talk will be at Woodmead Hall on Tuesday 23rd April and will follow the Society’s AGM. The AGM will start at 2.30pm with the talk at about 3.00pm.

This is a joint meeting with Lyme Regis Museum and the U3A and everyone is welcome. Entry will be by donation to the Trust’s Belmont Restoration Fund and refreshments will be provided.

Whistler’s Wood

Once again, at a very late stage in the planning process, Whistler’s Wood has hit the headlines.

In 2009 the owner of the copse, known as Whistler’s Wood, off Pound Street applied for planning permission for two “eco” houses. The Society, among many others, objected to the application and it was turned down by WDDC. The owner took his application to appeal and lost again.

In December 2012 the owner re-applied for planning permission including a detailed definition of a Trust that would be set up to maintain the woodland which would meet the planning inspector’s major objection. Once again we objected to this new application on the same grounds as to the previous one but also that the proposed Trust would only be practicable if WDDC seconded staff with appropriate expertise.

© Google Maps

The application went before the WDDC Planning Committee earlier this year and was recommended approval subject to the completion of legal agreements regarding the handing over of the woodland to a Trust to secure its future.

Despite this, Frances Whistler, a Society member and daughter of the former owner of the woodland, believes that public opinion may hold sway. She has organised an awareness raising gathering at “the green door” in Pound Street on Saturday 6th April at 3.00pm. She also believes that contacting Lyme’s WDDC representatives may help. If you would like more information contact her on

You, the readers of this post have ability to express whatever disquiet you may feel at this proposed development. The more voices that are heard the better.

The Skrabl Organ

Anton Skrabl of Slovenia has a world wide reputation for building organs. The one in Lyme Regis Parish Church is an excellent example of his work and one of the best organs in the South West of England. Lyme’s organ has been beautifully decorated by local artist David West.

At 2.30pm on Tuesday 19th March, Richard Godfrey of the Lyme Regis Organ School will give a talk in the church about the building, installation and playing of this wonderful instrument.
Entry by donation to the Organ Appeal.

Photo – John Marriage


A Community Land Trust for Lyme Regis

NB – Diary date
March 11th, 7.30pm
Woodmead Hall

For over five years the Society’s committee has actively supported efforts to get more affordable housing in the town. Efforts that have on most part been thwarted by both the lack of available building land within the Development Boundary and the rules for Rural Exception Sites for Affordable Housing not applying to Lyme because of the popukation limit.

Now, under the Coalition Government, things have changed. The population limit for Rural Exception Sites has increased to 5000 and the Community Right to Build has been introduced which means that if sufficient members of the community (and sufficient is a very high percentage) then the town can overrule the planners to gain planning permission for community needs such as housing.

Now would, therefore, seem the ideal time to start a Community Land Trust (CLT) in Lyme. This will allow land and property such as affordable housing to be owned by the community and to be kept as affordable housing in perpetuity – No more sell offs!!

The merry band pictured above have been investigating how a CLT should be set up in the town and will report back at a Public Meeting in Woodmead Hall on Monday 11th March at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome to come along, listen to the proposals and give their support. The more the merrier!!

The Society’s Committee believes that the town needs affordable housing for our young workforce to ensure that Lyme remains the vibrant place that we all know and love.

Please come along to support this venture if you can.

Chard – The first powered flight and other history

How many times have you driven into Chard and seen the sign that says “The home of the first powered flight”? If like many people you have wondered what it means but never investigated then look no further. On 26th February, David Ricketts of Chard Museum will give a talk entitled “Chard – The first powered flight and other history”.

The talk, organised by the Lyme Regis Society jointly with Lyme Regis Museum, is being given at Woodmead Hall and starts at 2.30pm. Entrance costs £1.50 which includes refreshments.

A celebration of John Fowles

Photo - Carolyn Djanogly

You may be interested in an event celebrating the work of John Fowles at the Oxford Literary Festival on 22nd March.

To download a leaflet for the event click here.

To visit the Oxford Literary Festival web-site click here.

If only it were in Lyme!

The event is being sponsored by the Landmark Trust who own Belmont, Fowles’s Lyme Regis home until his death in 2005 and who are currently raising funds to restore it and make it available to all.

Caroline Stanford, the Landmark Trust’s Historian will be visiting Lyme on 23rd April to talk to the Society about the history of Belmont and the Trust’s plans for its future.

Concerts in the West

Ben Gregor-Smith, cello and Aglaia Graf, piano

Many will have attended some of the Concerts in the West, a series which is now entering its 8th season. For me, these concerts brighten up Spring and Autumn with excellent young performers who are more used to playing in auditoriums like the Wigmore Hall in London than Lyme’s Marine Theatre.

However, listening to these wonderful young instrumentalists and singers in Lyme has some advantages: the setting (of course) and the closeness of the players when one can see every finger and bow movement.

This year, we have arranged that member’s of the Society have the advantage of a discount on the concerts. The discount is £1/per concert which also applies to the season ticket price.

Concerts In The West begins its 8th season in February.  Full details of the programme can be found at  Members of The Lyme Regis Society are invited to `A Season Preview` – a free, illustrated talk by John Bartholomew at The Marine Theatre on Wednesday January 30th from 4.00 to 5.30 p.m. Refreshments will be available.

I hope that you will attend some of the concerts and help to support classical music in Lyme Regis.

West Country Sailcloth – The Flax Industry in South East Somerset

For centuries in the past, the building of sailing ships was an important industry for Lyme Regis with Henry Chard and John Mansfield amongst the well-known ship-building names of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Earlier, Lyme built several of the ships that fought the Spanish Armada. We can well imagine where the wood for ship building came from and it is well known that Bridport was central in rope making but from where was the cloth for the sails sourced?

On Tuesday 11th December at Woodmead Hall, Tony Brook will give a talk entitled “West Country Sailcloth – The Flax Industry in South Somerset” which will describe one such possible source.

The Picture above shows a typical Somerset flax mill.

The talk has been jointly organised with Lyme Regis Museum and will start at 2.30pm. The entrance charge will be £1.50 which will include refreshments.

Stone Circles of West Dorset

On any walk in the West Dorset countryside you are likely to come across signs of prehistoric man – from hill forts to barrows and stone circles. On Tuesday 23rd October, Cecil Amor, the chairman of the Bridport History Society will explain what some of these ancient structures are and where you can find them.

The picture to the right shows the Kingston Russell circle.

As usual, the talk will be at Woodmead Hall, Hill Road in Lyme Regis and will start at 2.30pm. The entrance charge is £1.50 which includes refreshments and everyone is welcome.

Those were the days my friends

We do not usually give plugs to other commercial events in the town. However, this is an exception

The Windrose Rural Trusts are presenting an evening of traditional folk songs and archive film about the people of Dorset at the Marine Theatre on 20th October at 7.30pm.

There will be films spanning from 1915 to 1970 and will feature life in Lyme itself. Museum Director, David Tucker and researcher, Graham Davies have been involved in providing information. It could be an “Under Shady Tree” with music and moving pictures though less centred on Lyme.