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All the latest news from Lyme Regis Museum

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Another chance to see our World War I exhibition

If you missed our WWI exhibition then you can see it now, in high resolution, on our Past Exhibitions page. Click here.

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EVENTS: Coming up in November

What is a Shaman?

Thursday 6th November at Woodmead Halls - 2.30pm. A discussion by the Curator of Ethnography at Exeter Museum on centuries-old practices involving interaction with the spiritual world. Illustrated using objects from the Museum's collection. Organised by the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum.

Exhibitions

Two exhibitions continue in the Museum from last month:

  • World War I and Lyme Regis: The lower gallery of the Museum contains a major exhibition commemorating World War I and the men of Lyme and Uplyme who fought and sacrificed all. Until the end of October.
  • Sydney Jessett, Lyme Painter: Exhibition in the Rotunda Gallery, Lyme Regis Museum 1st October – 1st December 2014. Sydney Jessett (1885-1961), whose work is not as well-known as it should be, was a prolific and gifted Lyme landscape artist. His work spanned the period from before his service in the First World War in Flanders to his time in Lyme, where he produced thousands of water colours of Lyme landscapes from 1939 to the 1950s.

For further information about these and future exhibitions, see the Exhibitions page.

Walks

The rockpooling and Lyme History walks have now finished for the winter, but there are still plenty of fossil-related walks on offer this month:

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Lyme Freedom returns from Down Under

Australian coffee shop owners Jeff and Debi Johnson, from Crystal Brook South Australia, repatriated a Freedom of the Borough of Lyme Regis certificate at Lyme Regis Guildhall, today, Monday 13th October at 10.00 am.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Cyril-Wanklyn-receiving-the-Freedom-of-the-Borough-from-the-Mayor-William-J-Emmett-at-Town-Hall-January-13th-1938.JPG
Its return, 76 years after being presented in 1938 to former Lyme Museum Curator, Cyril Wanklyn, was received by Museum Director David Tucker at the exact spot where it was awarded.

The photograph to the right shows Mayor William Emmett conferring the award of Freedom and the Certificate is shown below. The certificate is a beautiful example of calligraphy and it bears the old town seal. It will become a key exhibit in a new display about Cyril Wanklyn.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Cyril-Wanklyns-Freedom-of-Lyme-certificate.jpgCyril Wanklyn, one of Lyme’s foremost historians, saved the Museum and the ancient borough records from oblivion. His work on the records saw them transcribed and placed in safe custody. It was for that the award was given, recorded in a brass plaque in the Guildhall. Lyme has the most complete set of records of any small borough, going back to the 14th century.

The remarkable story is that Debi Johnson bought the certificate for its beauty in Hazel’s Antiques in Blakeview, just north of Adelaide, 20 years ago. Debi had no idea of its significance until an internet search threw up information about Cyril Wanklyn on the Lyme Regis Museum’s web site – and, contacting researcher Graham Davies, Jeff and Debi offered to come over to the UK and present it to the Museum in exchange for a digital copy to display in their coffee shop. How this certificate got to Australia is a mystery, but Cyril may have many Australian connections besides his known chairmanship of mining syndicates.

Jeff said “Debbi and I are excited and intrigued that through sheer luck and coincidence we are a part of the mystery of this certificate. We have discussed things over and would love to return the certificate to Lyme personally. It’d be nice to display it, along with the related story, in our Coffee Shop here in Crystal Brook”.

David Tucker said “The Museum is pleased to provide a secure home for this piece of Lyme Regis history and to be able to honour Cyril Wanklyn for what he did for the Town and the Museum. Thank you so much, Jeff and Debi.

If you would like to learn more about Cyril Wanlklyn and the emormous legacy of historical information he left the town then you can read about him on the People and Places area of our web-site.

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Museum Half Term Events

October 30th sees Lyme Regis Museum running one of its Fun Days! Admission to the museum is free and Alison Bowskill will be at hand to carry out a craft activity with visiting families.

On both October 30th and 31st the museum will be running its famous Fossil Polishing event on the museum terrace (weather permitting!). For pocket money prices, visitors have the chance to prepare their own polished piece of Jurassic Magic for them to take home. With our expert geologists present (as seen in the accompanying image) it’s also a chance to learn something of life in the ancient seas of Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast. And where else would one wish to prepare a fossil other than on the same spot that Mary Anning carried out much of her great works of fossil discovery?

The museum is open from 10 to 5 each day and Fossil Polishing will run between 10 and approximately 4pm.

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The History of Book Illustration

Thursday 2nd October at Woodmead Halls - 2.30pm. An illustrated talk by John Marriage. Organised by the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum.

West Dorset's Ancient Roads

Tuesday 28th October at Woodmead Halls - 2.30pm. An illustrated talk by Russel Telfer of Charmouth's Pavey Group. Jointly with The Lyme Regis Society.

Know your Fossils

Saturday 4th October and Saturday 18th October. A talk and hands on experience of local fossils with the Museum's geologists.

Family Fun Day

Thursday 30th October. Free entry to the Museum! Activities in the Museum led by Alison Bowskill. Fossil Polishing on the Terrace - Buy a fossil at pocket money prices, polish it and take home a personalised souvenir.

Exhibitions

The Museum is hosting two exhibitions this last month:

  • World War I and Lyme Regis: The lower gallery of the Museum contains a major exhibition commemorating World War I and the men of Lyme and Uplyme who fought and sacrificed all. Until the end of October.
  • Sydney Jessett, Lyme Painter: Exhibition in the Rotunda Gallery, Lyme Regis Museum 1st October – 1st December 2014. Sydney Jessett (1885-1961), whose work is not as well-known as it should be, was a prolific and gifted Lyme landscape artist. His work spanned the period from before his service in the First World War in Flanders to his time in Lyme, where he produced thousands of water colours of Lyme landscapes from 1939 to the 1950s.

For further information about these and future exhibitions, see the Exhibitions page.

Walks

The full range of walks organised by the Museum is on offer this month:

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Gifted, Prolific, Forgotten: Sydney Jessett Returns to Lyme Regis Museum

Born in Bethnal Green, London in 1885, Sydney Jessett moved to the South West in 1939 with his evacuee granddaughters and wife, Ethel.

Apart from service in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, Sydney Jessett was a clerk for the Church Missionary Society until his retirement that year. Living near Kittwhistle until 1945, he painted many landscapes of the area, favouring Pinhay Bay and Golden Cap. His talent was natural: at evening classes in east London he had been banned from the annual exhibition because he was too good!

Moving into Lyme, the family settled in above what is now the Coombe Street Gallery, where Jessett continued to paint prolifically. A voluble cockney, maybe mildly eccentric, he walked miles sketching, accompanied by his dog. He entertained visitors in his dark little studio, where on the backs of old posters, on wallpaper and scraps of mount board, he reflected colour and light in impressionistic local scenes.

Sydney Jessett never made a fortune; his paintings sold for 2/6d, or to a lady, a kiss.

Visitors to the museum enjoyed one of his pictures in our April “Drawing Inspiration” exhibition of landscapes, but it has not been since 2005 that the Museum has mounted a major exhibition of his work.

Museum researchers Richard and Barbara Bull have put together a full exhibition of this little known but talented artist using pictures from the museum and his family’s collections, including 7 new paintings donated by Michael Irish.

The exhibition will be in the Rotunda gallery and run from October 1st till December 1st.

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Lyme's Eroding Coast

Tuesday 30th September at Woodmead Halls - 2.30pm. An illustrated talk by Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager for the Jurassic Coast Team. Organised jointly with the Lyme Regis Society and the U3A. This talk costs £3.00 but is free for members of these two organisations and Friends of the Museum.

Exhibitions

Two exhibitions continue from last month:

  • World War I and Lyme Regis: The lower gallery of the Museum contains a major exhibition commemorating World War I and the men of Lyme and Uplyme who fought and sacrificed all.
  • Strange Scenes from the Borderlands: A new art exhibition by Dave Wicken in conjunction with Lyme Artsfest, until Sunday 14th September in the Rotunda Gallery.

For further information about these and future exhibitions, see the Exhibitions page.

Know your Fossils

Saturday 6th September and Saturday 20th September. A talk and hands on experience of local fossils with the Museum's geologists.

Walks

The full range of walks organised by the Museum is on offer this month:

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An early American connection for Lyme

Mr Stephen Massil has contacted us with some new information about Lyme and a question. He has been researching the family of Henry Franks Waring who was Lyme Regis Town Clerk in the 19th Century. Although it was known that Waring was of Jewish descent (see Ethnic Minorities: Lyme Regis & West Dorset, Past & Present by Louisa Parker. Judy Ford & Jo Draper - published by Lyme Regis Museum), Mr Massil has now informed us that Henry's Jewish great-grandfather, Naphtali Franks was born in New York in 1715. His parents from London, Jacob Franks and b2ap3_thumbnail_phila_franks.jpgAligaill Bilhah Levy, had married in New York. Jacob’s brothers Aaron and Isaac had remained in London and the family's varied business connections flourished across the Atlantic. Naphtali was sent to London at age 18 in 1733 to join his uncle and cousins and became a prominent figure in the Jewish community and more widely as an F.R.S. (from 1764). Franks married Isaac Franks’s daughter, his cousin Phila, in 1742. Their granddaughter Margaret Franks married Captain Henry Waring and lived in part of the Great House on Broad Street.   
Naphtali’s and Phila’s portraits were painted by Thomas Hudson and were sold by ‘Miss Waring, a member of the family …’ at Christie’s auction of Portraits in November 1967. Mr Massil believes this Miss Waring to be a granddaughter of HF Waring’s sister Frances who married her cousin Francis. The portraits were bought by Alfred Rubens and donated to the Jewish Museum in London.
At some time these portraits must have hung in a house in Lyme. Was it the Great House, HF Waring’s South Cliff (now Farnham House), Aveline House (53 Broad Street) where Frances Waring is believed to have lived in the 1870s or all three? If anyone has any information about this then please could they contact us by commenting on this post.

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Monday 11th August sees an illustrated talk by David Cox, "Some of our Native Wildlife Wonders", at 7.30 pm at Woodmead Halls, organised by the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum.

There are two exhibitions at the Museum this month:

  • World War I and Lyme Regis: The lower gallery of the Museum contains a major exhibition commemorating World War I and the men of Lyme and Uplyme who fought and sacrificed all.
  • Strange Scenes from the Borderlands: A new art exhibition by Dave Wicken in conjunction with Lyme Artsfest, from Tuesday 5th August in the Rotunda Gallery.

For further information about these and other exhibitions, see the Exhibitions page.

This month also sees several fossil-related days:

  • Know your Fossils: A talk and hands on experience of local fossils with the Museum's geologists. Saturday 9th August.
  • Fossil Polishing at Marine Parade Shelters: Buy a fossil at pocket money prices, polish it and take home a personalised souvenir. With free entry to the Museum! Thursday 7th August and Wednesday 20th August.
  • Build a "Brickosaur": Have fun with artist Darrell Wakelam whilst learning about fossils and get a chance to take home a LEGO® ichthyosaur kit based on the Lyme Bay Ichthyosaur on display in the Museum (Costs £10 for accompanied children 6 and over). Two sessions 10am and 2pm and booking is essential. Friday 22nd August at the Town Mill (Upstairs Gallery).

In addition there is a full schedule of Fossil walks, Mary Anning walks, Lyme History Walks and Rockpooling walks.

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Lyme Lads - D-Day

Now that the D-Day exhibition has been replaced by our Lyme Regis and World War I exhibition, you can still see the major part of it on our web-site. Click here and go to "Lyme Lads - D-Day".

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EVENTS: Coming up in July

There are two new exhibitions at the Museum this month:

  • Lyme Regis and WWI, starting on Monday 7 July 2014. This will follow the "Lyme Lads" exhibition about the D-Day landings which closes on July 4th.
  • Inspired by the Old Town Dump by Ronnie Cresswell – in the Rotunda Gallery from 25th June to 3rd August.

For further information about these and other exhibitions, see the Exhibitions page.

This month also sees one of the Museum's regular Know your Fossils days, on Saturday 5th July: A talk and hands on experience of local fossils with the Museum's geologists.

In addition there is a full schedule of Fossil walks, Mary Anning walks, Lyme History Walks and Rockpooling walks.

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The Jurassic Coast Fossil Finder

Lyme Regis Museum has recently helped the Jurassic Coast Team create a pictorial database of about 1000 fossils that can be seen in museums along the coast. The picture show's our enormous ichthyosaur scull , the Lyme Bay Ichthyosaur. Click here to go to the Fossil Finder to get more information on the scull and many more fossils in our collection.

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There’s great news from Lyme Regis Museum this week, with the announcement that it has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Mary Anning Wing Initiative. The project aims to make Lyme’s unique history and palaeontology more accessible to audiences of all ages and abilities. The Mary Anning Wing Initiative will provide the museum with a new geology gallery, a learning space and an enlarged shop, as well as the public toilets and lift the building currently lacks. The museum aims to start construction of the Mary Anning Wing in the Autumn of 2016, for completion in Spring 2017.

This “First Round Pass” means the Heritage Lottery Fund believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The initial funding announced this week will help the Museum progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Lyme Regis Museum was built in 1902 and stands on the site of Mary Anning’s home. It currently receives 25,000 visitors a year and is famous for its Fossil Walks, which have featured on television on several occasions. Museum Director David Tucker said “We’re over the moon at having won the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Lyme Regis Museum has gone from strength to strength over the last twenty five years, and it’s great to know that we are a step nearer to ensuring the museum is thriving in 2102”.

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There are a couple of interesting events at the Museum this month:

Know your Fossils (Saturday 7th June):

  • A talk and hands on experience of local fossils with the Museum's geologists.

Jane Did it First (Thursday 12th June at 2.30 pm in the Guildhall):

  • A talk by Diana Shervington concerning Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, “Sanditon”. It seems that Jane got as far as Chapter 11, but following her death various versions have appeared in print “by Jane Austen and another lady”.

This month also sees the opening of Lyme Lads, an exhibition about Lyme Regis residents who took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944. "Lyme Lads" will run from June 5th to July 4th 2014.

A new art exhibition by Ronnie Creswell opens on Tuesday 24th June in the Rotunda, in conjunction with Lyme Artsfest. For further information about this and future exhibitions, keep an eye on the Exhibitions page.

This month also sees a full schedule of Fossil walks, Mary Anning walks, Lyme History Walks and Rockpooling walks.

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Lyme Lads: the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Next week sees the opening of a new exhibition at Lyme Regis Museum. Called "Lyme Lads", it commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings during the Second World War.

"Lyme Lads" marks the service and sacrifice of the local young men as they battled from the wide, sandy invasion beaches through the heavily-wooded small fields and lanes of Normandy to eventual victory at the Falaise Gap. As the exhibition shows, eleven Lyme Lads still rest alongside thousands of their comrades and opponents under Normandy’s soil.

The exhibition plots the routes taken by the Dorsetshire 1st Battalion from Gold Beach to the battles at the small town of Hottot and beyond, and by the 4th Batallion through its terrible baptism of fire on ‘Hill 112’ through to Mont Pincon.

The display also includes the story of the American 16th Infantry Division which was stationed in Lyme Regis before leaving for the horror of Omaha Beach, as well as the actions of the town’s RAF launches, who rescued airmen from aircraft that came down in the English Channel.

The story of the “Lyme Lads” is one of courage and loss and is part of Lyme Regis’s commemoration of D-Day the event that seventy years ago marked the first step in bringing democracy and freedom back to Western Europe. The exhibition will run from June 5th to July 4th 2014.

[Image: Cecil Gollop, who died three days after D-Day on June 9th, after landing on Gold Beach on 6th June 1944, as part of the first wave of British soldiers to invade Normandy.]

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New Species of Giant Bug from the Age of the Dinosaurs

In a recent event at Lyme Regis Museum, local collector James Carroll showed Dr Andrew Ross (fossil insect expert at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh) some specimens of fossil insects that he had collected. Dr Ross excitedly recognised one unusual wing as that of a giant water bug (family Belostomatidae). This family, which includes the largest true bugs in the world, do not live in the UK today. However they are well known from America, e.g. the Florida Everglades, and in Asia where they are eaten as a delicacy. They are reported to have a very painful bite. Two fossil species are already known from the Lower Lias rock beds of Dorset, but James’ fossil is larger and different, so very likely represents a new species.

It is undoubtedly the largest fossil water bug known from the Jurassic (200 to 145 MYA) in the UK and Dr Ross hopes to study the specimen in detail in due course. James has generously donated the fossil to Lyme Regis Museum where it will soon be put on display. David Tucker, Museum Director added “James’s wonderful find once again demonstrates the importance of our local collectors, who brave the most challenging of weather in their hunt for new evidence of past life”.

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Mary Anning's Google Doodle

Occasionally the Google logo is replaced with a topical "Google Doodle", either at a national or international level. For example, two days ago on 19 May 2014 Google celebrated the 40th anniversary of Rubik's Cube with an interactive version of the game. Today however it was the turn of Lyme's most famous fossil collector, Mary Anning! A screenshot of the "doodle" is shown above. According to Wikipedia, "On May 21, in many countries the Google search engine featured Mary Anning as their "doodle" on the 215th anniversary of her birthday."

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Exhibition: 12 x 12

Local artist Gail Sagman, of Jam Factory fame, is exhibiting the latest of her visually exciting installations in the Rotunda Gallery at Lyme Regis Museum, from 10-5 every day until 22nd June.

Encircling the top of the Rotunda, it is called “12 x 12” as it consists of 12 arrangements of 12 repeat objects joined and connected in a balancing act. This represents the 12 links in the chain; a Buddhist belief in how things come to be and cease to be.

And the inspiration for this? Gail’s journey to Nepal, following the Blue Lias trail, an ArtsFest expedition funded by Arts Council England. Lyme Regis and Nepal are connected by more than the Blue Lias geology as Gail’s work demonstrates.

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Mary Anning Day 2014

Saturday May 17th is Mary Anning Day, when Lyme Regis Museum celebrates the birthday of our famous fossilist with a range of events to suit everyone.

On Saturday, the Museum will be offering Free Entrance for the day, Fossil Polishing on the Terrace at pocket money prices and a free afternoon talk at 2.30 pm in the museum itself called “Mary Anning and her Men” by our old friend, Tom Sharpe , who has recently retired from Cardiff University (also of “Country File” fame). There will be rare fossils on display and you can learn about fossilised insects too from our geological team. And come and observe microfossils through a microscope.

WALKS

There will be a guided Fossil Walk at 12.30 on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday 18th May. Natalie Manifold will be conducting her popular Mary Anning Walk at 1.30 on Saturday.

BRICKOSAURUS

On Mary Anning Day itself, Saturday 17th May, local artist, Darrell Wakelam, will be running workshops for limited numbers of children at the Malthouse, where they will create the landscape of the ichthyosaurs. Each child will leave with a Lego ichthyosaur, not for sale commercially. Tickets can be booked at the museum, £10 per child over 6 years.Children must be accompanied by a parent.

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EVENTS: Coming up in May

There are several events at the Museum this month:

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival (Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th May):

  • Schools day on Friday with lots of activities for everyone over the weekend

"Know your Fossils" (Saturday 10th May):

  • A talk and hands on experience of local fossils with the Museum's geologists.

Mary Rose Coach Tour to Portsmouth (Thursday 15th May):

  • Mary Rose Coach Tour to Portsmouth
  • Coach leaves 8.30am from Holmbush Car-park.
  • Booking to be confirmed and paid by 1st May.
  • All attractions including coach travel - £32.00
  • Mary Rose and Mary Rose Museum only including coach travel - £26.00
  • Organised by the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum

Mary Anning Weekend (Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th May):

  • Free entry on Saturday with lots of activities for everyone over the weekend.
  • Build a "Brickosaur" with artist Darrell Wakelam (Costs £10 for accompanied children 6 and over).
  • Fossil Polishing on the Terrace - Buy a fossil at pocket money prices, polish it and take home a personalised souvenir.
  • Talks and new fossils to see.

A new art exhibition by Gail Sagman opens on Wednesday 7th May in the Rotunda, in conjunction with Lyme Artsfest. For further information about this and future exhibitions, keep an eye on the Exhibitions page.

This month also sees a full schedule of Fossil walks, Mary Anning walks, Lyme History Walks and Rockpooling walks.

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