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.
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.
Cyril 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.