This map plots the settings and references in The French Lieutenant's Woman

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Lyme Regis
The location of Lyme Bay
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe location of Lyme Bay - Credit: Steinsky

Lyme Regis is known as "the Pearl of Dorset".  The town is placed at the northern edge of Lyme Bay, in the far west of Dorset.

 

 

The town first came to prominence in the 13th century, when it became an important trade port. By the 19th century the shallow harbour was no longer suitable for the ever-larger ships being constructed and Lyme's economic importance rapidly decreased.

 

View of the Cobb encircling Lyme harbour
Public DomainView of the Cobb encircling Lyme harbour
Lyme, seen from the Cobb
Public DomainLyme, seen from the Cobb

 

 

 

 

Lyme's pretty whitewashed buildings, clean beaches and attractive countryside have made it a popular tourist destination for several centuries. The 18th and 19th century fashion for sea-bathing, believed to restore and maintain health, brought upper-class visitors to spa towns along the south coast, including Lyme.  Among these visitors was Jane Austen, who records two visits to the town in her letters.  She later used Lyme as the setting for parts of her novel Persuasion.

 

The front at Lyme
Public DomainThe front at Lyme

 

Outside the town, the scenery gets a little wilder, with dramatic cliffs and untamed wildernesses like the Undercliff. Lyme is well known for the large number of fossils found in the cliffs around the town.  In 2004, a large stretch of the Dorset coast around Lyme was declared the Jurassic Coast UNESCO world heritage site because of its archeological importance.

 

The Jurassic Coast, near Lyme
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Jurassic Coast, near Lyme - Credit: Steinsky
The Undercliff at Lyme Regis
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Undercliff at Lyme Regis - Credit: Tony Atkin