LYME REGIS, a market town and municipal borough and watering-place in the western parliamentary division of Dorsetshire, England, 151 m. W.S.W. of London by the London & South Western railway, the terminus of a light railway from Axminster. Pop. (1001) 2095. It is situated at the mouth of a narrow combe or valley opening upon a fine precipitous coast-line; there is a sandy shore affording excellent bathing, and the country inland is beautiful. The church of St Michael and All Angels is mainly Perpendicular, but the tower (formerly central) and the portion west of it are Norman. A guildhall and assembly rooms are the chief public buildings. The principal industries are stonequarrying and the manufacture of cement. There is a curved pier of ancient foundation known as the Cobb. The harbour, with a small coasting trade, is under the authority of the corporation. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 1237 acres.
No evidence of settlement on the site of Lyme Regis exists before that afforded by a grant, dated 774, purporting to be by Cynewulf , king of the West-Saxons, of land here to the church of Sherborne, and a similar grant by King ..Ethelstan to the church of Glastonbury. In 1086 three manors of Lyme are mentioned: that belonging to Sherborne abbey, which was granted at the dissolution to Thomas Goodwin, who alienated it in the following year; that belonging to Glastonbury, which seems to have passed into lay lands during the middle ages, and that belonging to William Belet. The last was acquired by the family of Bayeux, from whom it passed by marriage to Elias de Rabayne, whose nephew, Peter Baudrat, surrendered it to the crown in 1315-1316 when the king became lord of one moiety of the borough, henceforth known as Lyme Regis. Lyme ranked as a port in 1234, and Edward I. in 1284 granted to the town a charter making it a free borough, with a merchant gild, and in the same year the mayor and bailiffs are mentioned. In the following January the bailiffs were given freedom from pleading without the borough, freedom from toll and privileges implying considerable foreign trade; the importance of the port is also evident from the demand of two ships for the king's service in 1311. In 1332-1333 Edward III. granted Lyme to the burgesses at a fee-farm of 32 marks; on the petition of the inhabitants, who were impoverished by tempests and high tides, this was reduced to 100 shillings in 1410 and to 5 marks in 1481. In 1591 Elizabeth incorporated Lyme, and further charters were obtained from James I., Charles II. and William III. Lyme returned two members to parliament from 1295 to 1832 when the representation was reduced to one. The borough was disfranchised in 1867. The fairs granted in 1553 for the 1st of February and the 20th of September are now held on altered dates. Trade with France in wine and cloth was carried on as early as 1284, but was probably much increased on the erection of the Cobb, first mentioned in 1328 as built of timber and rock. Its medieval importance as the only shelter between Portland Roads and the river Exe caused the burgesses to receive grants of quayage for its maintenance in 1335 and many subsequent years, while its convenience probably did much to bring upon Lyme the unsuccessful siege by Prince Maurice in 1644. In 1685 Lyme was the scene of the landing of James, duke of Monmouth, in his attempt upon the throne.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)