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Saturday, 2 April 2011

G. K. Chesterton in Lyme Regis

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was a poet, novelist and critic, who is probably best known today for his stories about the amateur detective Father Brown. The picture on the left (a detail taken from a photograph in the museum collection) shows Chesterton sitting in the porch of the Three Cups hotel in Lyme Regis.

In the summer of 1926, while Chesterton and his wife were on a motoring holiday in the West Country, they decided to stay in Lyme Regis for a couple of days... and ended up staying for two weeks. They came back again the following summer, and again the summer after that. One of the attractions of the town for Chesterton was a local family named Nicholl, who had six young children who were greatly appreciative of his sense of humour. He invented numerous games and jokes for them... including several at the expense of the elderly Museum curator, Vitruvius Harold Wyatt Wingrave.

In true Father Brown style, some of Chesterton's games for the children involved amateur detective work. On display in the museum is a poster he produced in connection with one of these games (detail below): "Scattered Human Remains! Great Attraction! Visitors are invited to the melancholy pleasure of identifying the legs & arms and other outlying portions of the persons distributed in the last great Railway Catastrophe and of performing the following agreeable duties..." (You'll have to visit the museum to find out what these duties are!).
For further information on Lyme's literary heritage, see Writers and Artists.

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