Have you taken a look yet at some of the fascinating glimpses of life in the Lyme of times gone by - many back to the early 1800s?
If not, some lovely stories await you, mainly told by the ordinary people living there at the time - although Harriett Wilson in her Memoirs of 1825 described those attending the Assembley Rooms in these words: 'There were, among them, persons of the highest rank but the society was chiefly composed of people of very small independent fortunes, who, for economy, had settled at Lyme Regis; or of such as required sea-bathing . Harriett herself had numerous liaisons with the aristocracy and was able to try blackmailing none other than the Duke of Wellington to have his name removed before she published her Memoirs. (Unsurprisingly, rather than cave in, he responded "publish and be damned" ).
However delightful these memories are to read, historians should probably heed the warning words of John Fowles in his forward to the two "Lyme Voices" published under his auspices:
"I have also edited, or omitted, as little as possible, but should warn readers that this is not gospel truth, the exact history it may sometimes sound. It is largely oral history, what people –sometimes rather vaguely, even wrongly –remember; not what they can always prove actually was or truly happened. "
Another John Fowles quote: whilst describing "Picture of Lyme Regis & its Environs (1817)" as appearing to be the first Lyme Guide Book, he berates "its fragrant inadequacy and inaccuracy" but adds "here at any rate is a tiny vignette of a long-ago Lyme; and of a long-ago mentality also".
I'm sure most readers will agree that any lack of absolute veracity is more than compensated for by the general atmosphere of the times conjured by these voices from the past. ENJOY!