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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lerret Launch video and the final event of Maritime Lyme

Those of you who have been following the evnts of the year of Maritime Lyme will remember that, back in May, Gail McGarva's lerret was launched for the first time down a steep pebbled beach. We have now obtained a video of the launch. You can see the video and read more about that event here.

The final event of Maritime Lyme will enable you to learn more about the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy where Gail built the lerret. On Tuesday 13th December, Yvonne Green, the Principal, will give a talk about "Life at the Boat Building Academy". The talk will be at Woodmead Hall at 2.30pm.

NB this is a different talk to "All boats have their story" which Gail has given several times through the year and is staged by The Lyme Regis Society in partnership with Lyme Regis Museum.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Haunted Weymouth

Slightly off-topic, but I've just written a review of a book called Haunted Weymouth for the Dark Dorset website. Weymouth lies about thirty miles east of Lyme Regis along the Dorset coast, and like Lyme it started out as a working port and fishing town before re-inventing itself as a popular seaside resort in the late eighteenth century. Weymouth is a much bigger town, however, with more than fifty thousand inhabitants compared to less than five thousand in Lyme. There are numerous ghost stories attached to Weymouth, and for several years Alex Woodward has organized "Ghost Walks" in the town. She has now written a book on the subject, Haunted Weymouth... click here to read my review of it.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Maritime Lyme Exhibition Success

From Mary Godwin, Curator of Lyme Regis Museum:

As part of the Year of Maritime Lyme, our local history exhibition this year was on the theme of ‘Maritime Memories’ at the Town Mill Malthouse from 22nd to 30th October. This was organised by Ken Gollop, Graham Davies and Gail McGarva whose lerrets Vera and Littlesea were the star attraction of the show (the picture on the left shows Vera outside the Malthouse). We’re also grateful to the RNLI for lending their history display and for loaning us back our model of the Thomas Masterman Hardy Lifeboat (This model was previously loaned to St Michael’s church and is now on loan to the RNLI station). Thanks also to Chris Lang for lending his model RAF Seaplane tenders and to all our superb stewards too numerous to mention! I’m delighted to report that 2,342 people (plus lots of dogs and at least one cat) visited the exhibition during the nine days it was on! Donations were £230, somewhat down on previous years, perhaps reflecting the wider economic scenario, but this will still go a long way towards covering the cost of hiring the Malthouse.

You can read Mary's November newsletter in full at the Curator's Corner of the main website.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The third most influential British woman in the history of science!

Margaret Rose, Chairman of the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum as well as a Trustee of the Museum, sent this interesting snippet about Mary Anning:

To celebrate its 350th anniversary last year, and its commitment to the advancement of women in science, the Royal Society asked a panel of leading female scientists and science historians to vote for the ten most influential British women in the history of science. First came the astronomer Caroline Herschel; second came Mary Somerville, who started her experiments on magnetism in 1825; and third? None other than Mary Anning, ahead of such luminaries as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first English female doctor, and Rosalind Franklin, whose work on the x-ray diffraction images of DNA was used to formulate Crick and Watson's 1953 hypothesis on its structure.

Said the Royal Society: "Mary Anning, the daughter of poor Dissenters, was an early British fossil collector and palaeontologist. She spent her life working in Lyme Regis. Her skill in locating and preparing fossils, as well as the richness of the Jurassic era marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis, resulted in her making a number of important finds. These included the skeleton of the first ichthyosaur to be recognised, and the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found. Anning's gender and social class prevented her from fully participating in the scientific community of early 19th century Britain, and she did not always receive full credit for her contributions. Despite this she became well known in geological circles in Britain and beyond, although she struggled financially for much of her life. After her death her enormous contribution to palaeontology was largely forgotten."

 The photograph below shows "Mary Anning" (aka Natalie Manifold) in the Geology Gallery at Lyme Regis Museum.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Kids in Museums Awards

Kids in Museums is an organisation aimed at encouraging museums to become more family friendly. Every year they give out an award to the museum judged to be the best at bringing a love of museums to families. Here at Lyme Regis Museum, we think we are pretty good at attracting families into the museum and giving them a great time.
There are some pictures below and throughout this web-site that illustrate the point.

If you have visited the museum and agree with us then please go to the Kids in Museums web-site and nominate Lyme Regis Museum!

To see the sort of family friendly event the museum runs click here.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Lymiad, an epic poem of the Regency period, is finally published!

Lyme Regis Museum’s latest publication The Lymiad was launched at a reception in the Guildhall on Friday November 11. Written 200 years ago, the original manuscript of this long satirical poem about Lyme Regis is one of the museum’s major literary exhibits. Presented as a gift to the museum by glass engraver Laurence Whistler in 1978, its importance was immediately recognised by author John Fowles who was curator of the museum at that time.

Sarah Fowles, speaking of her late husband’s editorial involvement with the book said he would have been proud to see the finished publication: ‘He would have stroked it, as he did with all books he loved.’ And, as a designer herself often working in book publishing, she felt the book was beautifully produced.

The picture below shows Sarah Fowles together with John Constable, co-editor of The Lymiad, and Stephen Locke, chairman of Lyme Regis Museum.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Painting of Lyme Regis featured on TV

A few months ago on this blog, a post about the 19th century artist J. M. W. Turner mentioned that a small oil painting entitled "Shrimpers at Lyme Regis" on display at Nunnington Hall (a National Trust property in North Yorkshire) had recently been attributed to Turner. This painting was featured in today's episode of Bargain Hunt on BBC television, which included a short segment filmed in Nunnington Hall.

In the clip (from which the still on the left is taken) presenter Tim Wonnacott describes how the painting, attributed on the reverse to "J. M. Turner 1832", was found by National Trust staff gathering dust in the attic, and was then subjected to no less than five years of research. Even after that, he says there is still some doubt about the authenticity of the work because "the material that the painting is painted on is not a type of artist's board that Turner used at this period of his life".

If you missed the show, there is still a chance to catch it on BBC iPlayer for the next few days. The Nunnington Hall segment starts at 23 minutes 23 seconds.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Novel set in Lyme Regis nominated for Literary Award

Curiosity is a novel about the nineteenth century Lyme Regis fossil hunters Mary Anning and Henry de la Beche. It was written by Canadian author Joan Thomas and published by McClelland & Stewart last year. Since then the book has received numerous enthusiastic reviews, and was frequently cited in "Best of 2010" lists.

Curiosity has now been nominated for the International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award. The book is described in the nomination as “Fascinating reading, exposing rigid barriers of class, gender and education in the early 19th century”. It is up against some stiff competition, so we will just have to keep our fingers crossed!

To find out more about Curiosity, visit Joan Thomas's website. To find out more about Mary Anning and Henry de la Beche visit Lyme Regis Museum!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A historic mailbox

The building that is now the Old Lyme Guest House in Coombe Street was, from 1799 to 1853, the town's Post Office. The wooden posting box, which is still in its original place on the wall (see picture) is one of the oldest surviving mailboxes in Britain.

As can be seen from the photograph, the posting box has both a vertical and a horizontal slot. These were not in use at the same time, but reflect changing government guidelines! In 1846 all Postmasters were instructed to adopt a vertical aperture because it was thought to be more difficult to steal a letter through one (stealing letters was a serious crime punishable by death). However, ten years later in 1856 the authorities decided that horizontal slots were acceptable after all!

To learn more about the social history of Lyme Regis, visit the Museum website.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Museum Events in November

THURSDAY 3 NOVEMBER 2.30pm Woodmead Hall
Professor David Nichols talks about creatures of the sea and
shore. Organised by Friends of Lyme Regis Museum.

Descendant Diana Shervington talks about how Jane’s fictional
characters reflect her admiration for the Naval heroes of her day.

Gail McGarva talks about traditional wooden boats and the
building of their modern-day ‘daughters’.

SATURDAY 26 NOVEMBER from 6pm – everyone welcome
Museum re-opening after major electrical refurbishment, join us
for a glass of mulled wine and a look at the exhibits in a new light!