Ware Farm Update

On 26 Aug 2016, at 10:09, Email from Amy Middleton

Dear Chris

Helen is now on leave and has asked me to respond to your email.
We have met with the architect and are awaiting revised designs from him.
The inalienability proposal has been approved by our regional and national boards and is now just waiting to be presented to the board of Trustees. They do not meet over the summer holidays but we are hoping to get it on the agenda for the September meeting.
We will let you know as soon as we have an update.

Kind regards Amy
Amy Middleton MSc MRICS Estate
Manager South Somerset, West Dorset and Knightshayes

Patron of Lyme Regis Society

Dear Members

I am delighted to inform you that Sir Ghillean Prance has agreed to become Patron of the Lyme Regis Society. As you might know, he is one of the worlds leading scientists and also lives in Lyme Regis. 


Lyme Regis/St George’s Twinning Association

The current series of talks to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lyme Regis/St George’s Twinning Association and recent tripling with historic Jamestowne,Virginia will continue on Thursday 28th July.

Twinning committee member John Dover will talk about the ground breaking archaeological discoveries and the development of our current understanding of the role of James Fort(later Jamestowne)in the birth of English America and formation of the British Empire.

Mr Dover, with added historic context provided by local historian Peter Lacey,will be featuring the Channel 4 programme’Time Team Special-America’s Birthplace’,the contribution of Admiral Sir George Somers,former MP,mayor and native of Lyme Regis and updating on future plans and opportunities for Lyme,St George’s Bermuda and Jamestowne.

The talk will will be held in the Woodmead Halls at 2.30pm.Admission is free but donations to the twinning association would be welcome.Tea and coffee will be available and all are welcome.

Ware Farm Proposals – The latest News

Since the meeting at Woodmead Hall there has been an exchange of emails between The Lyme Regis Society and The National Trust. These are reproduced here and cover our feedback to the meeting and the subsequent followup. In reverse chronological order:

Subject: Inalienability
From: Mann, Helen
Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 1:20 PM
To: Chris Savory

Dear Chris

Just to let you know we have now completed the papers re inalienability.  These papers will go forward to SW projects and information board (SWPIB) on the 28th June.  If the paper is successful at that board it will then go on to National PIB and then the board of Trustees.  This process could take more than 3 months depending on holiday sittings for each of the boards.
I will keep you informed of progress

Helen Mann
General Manager, West and North Dorset

From: Chris Savory
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 9:15 AM
To: Mann, Helen

Dear Helen

Many thanks for your note and for our subsequent telephone conversation. While disappointed, I can fully understand the imperatives driving the disposal option. Just to reiterative our remaining concern relates to the design and impact of the proposed property on the site of the redundant farm buildings. We are pleased that you have instructed your architect to look again at the design and very much hope that a design can be created that meets all of the various concerns expressed at our meeting. Maintaining screening will also be important to the solution.

We look forward to hearing of the timescale for securing inalienability of the land outside of the development boundary, and very much hope that an amicable design solution can be found.

Kind regards

Lyme Regis Society

From: Mann, Helen
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2016 8:37 AM
To: Chris Savory

Dear Chris

Many thanks for your email

The National Trust would like to further pursue the disposal of this land and therefore we have instructed our Architect to look again at the design to try and accommodate all of the concerns highlighted below. Unfortunately the architect is about to move office and then have a holiday so the earliest we can look at this is end of June with the likelihood that we will be back in contact Mid July.

We will action the application for declaration of inalienability for the land outside the development boundary and I am seeking confirmation of the timescale for this via Amy and other internal consultants. I will keep you informed of progress.

Thank you for your continued support


Helen Mann
General Manager, West and North Dorset

Subject: WARE FARM Feedback to the proposals by the National Trust
From: Chris Savory
Sent: 20 May 2016 18:20
To: Mann, Helen

Dear Helen

Very many thanks to both you and Amy for your presentation yesterday, and for answering the various points and questions raised by Society Members. I said I would write to you conveying the views of Society Members, a number of whom are also Ware residents.

The first point to make is relief and thanks that you have dropped the original proposal to dispose of the triangular field and that you will now seek to obtain inalienable status for this land as for all other agricultural land in this holding. We would request that this inalienability be secured as quickly as possible and preferably before any sale of the smaller proposed building plot. Secondly we acknowledge that you have modified the plans for the proposed house on the site of the redundant farm buildings by making a welcome reduction to the footprint, but we still have serious reservations.

Viewed from Ware Lane, the visual impact of the proposed house conveys the sense of a single storey structure, but the height of the roof and large block chimney are not in sympathy with its surroundings and neighbouring properties. This visual impact is even more dramatic viewed from the south elevation, which is where most walkers would view the house.

As you know, during the meeting, the suggestion was put forward that an alternative to selling the site with detailed planning permission for the construction of a house, would be for the National Trust to demolish the farm buildings and incorporate the site into the agricultural holding and seek inalienable status, making the entire holding inalienable. If this could be done in a way that maintained access for the farmer, allowed him to use the site as a sheep pen, while landscaping the whole with suitable walls and trees, this would greatly add to the amenity of the site both for local residents and all those using the footpath close by.

It is recognised that this would incur a cost to the NT, but a reasonable sum could be provided by LRS Members and local residents to meet this cost. This solution would be the most favoured outcome, and the one most closely in line with the expectations that accompanied the fund raising by the LRS in 1987, when it was widely reported that no housing of any sort would be permitted.

If this outcome is not possible and the NT wishes to pursue the current proposal, we would wish to see further significant changes to both reduce the height of the proposed house and omit the proposed chimney. We also would reiterate how important it is to retain as many as possible of the semi-mature oak trees surrounding the site to provide both visual screening and an important natural habitat.

We very much hope that you can accommodate one of these solutions with a strong preference for the demolition and retention option. We also hope that it proves possible to avoid a potentially adversarial position with the NT, which we feel would have serious reputational risks for the NT.

Kind regards

Chris Savory
Lyme Regis Society


Ware Cliffs Proposed Deveopment Plans

Please find below links to the National Trust Development Plans for Ware Cliffs followed by the accompanying letter received from Helen Mann:

Elevation drawings – version 2

Site plan – version 2

Floor plan – version 1

Setting elevations – version 2

Floor plan – version 2

Dear All

Following our meeting on the 14th April I am now in a position to update you on progress. We have listened to the group’s comments and worked hard to accommodate as many of these as we can. 

One of the largest areas of concern was the triangle of land which we had proposed to sell with the building plot. We have reviewed this plan and now propose that only the area outlined in red on the attached site plan is included within the planning application and eventually sold.  You will see that this excludes the triangle of land, which we intend to declare inalienable. I cannot guarantee that the Board of Trustees will accept this declaration, but I see no reason why the recommendation for inalienability would be denied.

We have also asked the architect to review the plans for the house and I have attached amended drawings. We have scaled back the footprint of the property which has reduced the bulk of the building. If you compare the original floor plan to version 2 you will see that the eastern elevation has been shortened, reducing the size of the kitchen and living room. Please note that the lines on the floor plan in the field are contour lines and are not indicative of fencing.

The primary reason for the National Trust wanting to dispose of this property is to remove the liability of the redundant farm buildings. These buildings have no agricultural use or vernacular interest. At some point in the near future they will become an environmental hazard due to the asbestos roofs and will require significant investment to remedy this. Disposing of this property will allow us to generate new funds for conservation work, some of which we are currently unable to fund.

I hope you will be able to support these amendments so that we can move to a formal submission to the planning authority. If anyone has any questions do please come back to me.


Helen Mann

General Manager, West and North Dorset

Ware Farm – A letter to members




 As mentioned at the Annual General Meeting, the Society has been consulted by the National Trust concerning development proposals at Ware Farm. 

By way of background, in 1987 the Society organised in short order a fund raising campaign to assist the National Trust acquire Ware Farm. This campaign raised £27,000 towards the £38,000 purchase price. It is clear from our archives and press reports at the time, it was the intention that the National Trust would retain the whole of the land in perpetuity for the benefit of the general public. 

It is important to understand that the gift of cash to acquire land in these circumstances does not, of itself, make the land free from the threat of development. It is the National Trust that can declare land inalienable, meaning it is free of the threat of being sold or developed, unless as a result of an Act of Parliament. 

While the National Trust has declared most of the Ware Farm land inalienable, it has not done so in respect of the site containing the farm buildings and the adjacent triangular field, which it considers as investment properties. 

I attended a meeting with Richard Nicholls, Chair of Dorset CPRE and local Ware residents with Helen Mann General Manager of the North & West Dorset Region in mid-April to discuss their proposals. Most of these proposals are against the intention expressed in 1987, and as such are opposed by the Society. However as a result of these strongly expressed objections, the National Trust are rethinking their proposals. 

I am pleased to say that Helen Mann has agreed to present the revised proposals at a special meeting of Society Members and their guests. While the purpose of this meeting is to consult Society Members we are conscious that there is potentially wider interest in what the National Trust is proposing.

Therefore without wishing to exclude anyone those who are intending to attend should be as guests of Members. There will be no charge for this meeting.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at this meeting. If you wish to communicate with me in lieu of attendance or in addition to attending please email me at chairman@lymeregissociety.org.uk

 With kind regards

Chris Savory

PS. Please note that, due to the difficulty of communicating with all our members at short notice in these circumstances, it has been decided that in future all such communication will be by email. Please ensure that the Society always has your current email address by emailing membership@lymeregissociety.org.uk


Bernard Spencer – RIP

We are very sorry to need to relate the death of Bernard Spencer, the Society’s President and former Chairman. In the period since he stood down from his role as Chairman at the 2011 AGM, Bernard has struggled with illness and succumbed to it on the 8th December.

It is difficult to overstate what Bernard did for the Society in the years after he attended his first meeting, with the intent of joining the Society but in fact being elected as Treasurer. The best way to give an idea of what he acheived may well be to use his own understated words.
In his final Chairman’s report in the March 2011 edition of the Society’s Newsletter, Bernard wrote:

“A resumé of my eleven years as Treasurer and Chairman.

2000 – My first visit to join the LRS committee produced an announcement from the then Chairman. “It is with regret I have to report that the Society is facing considerable difficulties,” then three of the committee stood down. An inauspicious start. Clearly the priority was to increase membership. On the plus side an Honour was awarded to member Lawrence Whistler, a glass engraver of World renown. Mary Bohane joined as Secretary and the first moves to raise the Society profile began. We had a float in the Carnival Procession and came first in our category. (actually, we were the only entry). Having joined as Treasurer, I restarted checking Footpaths.
2001 – Molly designed and painted a Tourist Map of the town paid for by advertisements. We also researched the town’s historic plaques and later printed a free book, supplies of which were gone before the year ended. At a ceremony in London, the Lyme Regis Society was chosen by the Civic Trust from 900 Civic Societies for a Best Improvement Award. The committee agreed to start a fund raising campaign for a stone seat commemorating the late Dr Joan Walker, a stalwart of the Society and famous for her pioneering work in the treatment of diabetes. In November we won second prize in a Fire Sculpture competition organised by the Carnival Committee. Our entry was Judge Jeffreys. He was recently resurrected from the Museum cellar.
2002 – Jean Smith retired as Chairman and I took over, with Molly acting as Caretaker Treasurer. We produced a sixty-page book on the town’s historic plaques which we called Signs of History. Fifteen new members joined the Society. We made our first approach to Palmers about the empty Three Cups Hotel.
2003 – Search was on for a Skateboard Park, a use for Strawberry Fields, and the Development Trust became interested in Woodbury Down for a study centre. The Society was pressing Palmers for action on the Three Cups Hotel. The Society’s Town Map had sold 2,000 copies. The new Signs of History sold 1,000 copies. The stone seat in memory of Joan Walker was installed with a short ceremony attended by the Mayor and the Chairman of the District Council. The Society’s President, Ron Arnold, died.
2004 – We made representations to Dorset Council over inadequate repairs to Horn Bridge. Committee decided to open the Guildhall in support of the Europewide Heritage Open Days. Molly and I researched and produced a book listing the local Devon and Dorset paths, calling it Roaming Lyme’s Landscape. The Town Map sold out and was reprinted. Lyme Regis invited a successful visit from Chester Civic Society. Lyme News printed a full page feature on the Society.
2005 – Instead of a December lecture the Society held a Social at the Woodmead Hall, clearly enjoyed by all who attended. A Strawberry Tea was organised at the Alexandra to celebrate our 70th Anniversary. Site meeting with English Heritage over Horn Bridge but Dorset CC inflexible. Society replaces plaque on Morgan’s Grave, joined by a fair sized crowd watching a ceremony by Barbara Austin and Reverend Keith Vivian. Molly and I had a site meeting with John Peake, Chairman of Dorset, over the Three Cups.
2006 – Delighted the bridge to the Mill, first suggested by the Society, was in operation and the Mill and Museum planning a wide series of artistic events. Our contacts with Harvard University elicit they are mystified why Lyme Regis neglects Thomas Hollis, whom they consider is our most famous citizen. We have helped provide two table tennis tables for Young Peoples Club.
2007 – A new Editor for the Newsletter, John Marriage, who has revamped the operation and produced an eye catching edition. Members of the Society are helping collect information for the Shelters Project. Molly and I are working on a plan for the Town Council Beach Huts to be painted in Sugared Almond colours. Plaque to commemorate Engineer Percy Gilchrist mounted on the wall at Cobb Gate.
2008 – Massive survey of what the population of Lyme want for users of the Shelters is finished. Beach Huts are painted and put in place. Guildhall hit by yet another lorry while Molly and I were stewarding Heritage Open Days. Dedication stone laid in Anning Road. A memorial to the Polish Airmen who died in the war.
2009 – Plans for the Shelters have leapt to over a million pounds. Group of members visited Crewkerne Civic Society and later in the year Crewkerne visited us. Rotary organised a “Photo Day” in August and almost the whole town was digitally recorded and archived in the Museum. We lost our Woolworth store.
2010 – A difficult two years for the Society when not enough volunteers replaced those retiring. The Civic Trust folded due to drop in funding. Another successful Heritage Open Days. Our volunteers working on the Shelters project were stood down and now the builders take over.”

It is because of Bernard and Molly that the Society survived and then flourished to become what it is today and this was publicly recognised in 2012 when Bernard was awarded the title of “Honoured Citizen of Lyme Regis” during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The pictures below show Bernard receiving his award from the Mayor, Councillor Sally Holman.


Heritage Matters and the “Ron and Norah Driver Youth Heritage Prize”

Prizes for Heritage Matters, the arts competition organised by the Society and sponsored by it, Lyme Regis Museum and the Town Mill, were presented on Saturday the 19th September at the Jubilee Pavilion. Scores of entries were received from pupils at Woodroffe School, St Michael’s Primary School and Mrs. Ethelston’s School and we believe that the competition really succeeded in raising the profile of the town’s heritage amongst its young people.

The Jubilee Pavilion will have an exhibition of the three first prize winners (one from each school) and those entries which were “Highly Commended” for the remainder of ArtsFest. All the other entries are on show at The Hub in Church Street.

The best overall entry was awarded the Ron and Norah Driver Youth Heritage Prize by the Society. This went to Polly Howarth Yates of Woodroffe School (shown left with her mixed media composition). Polly’s concept was that a town’s heritage is  shown in what is thrown away. Her picture shows the huge Black Ven landslip of 2008 which brought down some of the contents of the old rubbish dump. Polly used small items from the dump mixed with pictures from the town’s history (e.g. Mary Anning, John Fowles, Thomas Coram) to form the landslip in her picture which was created on an old woodedn panel on which she had transcribed the history of the dump. Great concept and wonderful execution. It is hoped that, following its display during ArtsFest, Polly’s work will be on display for a while in the Museum.

Another great concept came from Lila and Evelyn Churchill of Mrs Ehelston’s School who won the first prize there. Their Belmont House was a painted box (right) and the inside of the box was decorated with extract of information about John Fowles life and works together with information written in their own hands about their great-great grandfather who was John Fowles’ gardener in the later years of his life.

The first prize winner for St Michael’s School was Lucy Waplington with a painting of the Cobb (left).



Belmont Public Open Days

The restoration of Belmont by the Landmark Trust is nearly complete and, in line with their promise when they applied for Planning Permission/Listed Building Consent, the Trust will be opening the house to the public. The Society has been involved in discussions with the Landmark Trust on the restoration of Belmont for several years and has fully supported what they plan to put in place. Now is an ideal opportunity to judge if we were right.
The restored frontage is above and details of the opening times are below.
Belmont Public Open Days: Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September 2015 – 10am to 4pm
No booking required.

Heritage Matters Competition

For more information click here to go to our Heritage Matters page.