Books, books, and more books: if you’re a bookworm then you simply must make your way to The Sanctuary Bookshop in Lyme Regis. A Narnia of sorts, there’s no snow-covered scene behind this façade. Instead, this bookstore along the Jurrasic Coastline stretches back for room upon room, each bursting to the brim with novels, prints, and trinkets.
Lyme Regis, the birthplace of modern fossil collecting
You’d be forgiven for never having heard of Mary Anning before. However, this young woman was born in the seaside resort town of Lyme Regin and changed the face of fossil collecting forever. Born into poverty in the village at the turn of the 19th-century, Mary Anning didn’t attend school all that much and instead taught herself to read and write.
Out of nine of ten children, only Mary and her brother survived into adulthood. Anning would often venture down to the seashore to search for ‘curious objects’. In turn, she soon grew to learn that these were actually fossils she could sell in order to make money. Truth be told, the most famous of her discoveries was a full-sized skeleton of an Ichthyosaurus (fish lizard).
Today, when visiting Lyme Regis, you can still see vestiges of the grandeur the town once enjoyed. Victorian façades can be found in abundance, while the Cobb (the local name for the harbour) has been in situ in some form or another since the 14th-century. Now, fossil finds are still being discovered all the time, while Lyme Regis heavily relies on tourism by which to sustain itself.
How to visit The Sanctuary Bookshop, Lyme Regis
Address | 65 Broad St, Lyme Regis DT7 3QF
Vending everything from lava lamps to rare prints, the bookstore can be found a little way away from the beach, along Broad Street. Decked out in wooden decor, every available surface and inch of wall space is filled with goods for sale, or at the very least, uplifting and often humorous quotes.
Where no available storage space is left (and this happens fairly frequently in the second-hand shop), books are even piled on the floor. The resulting ambience is ever-so-cosy and you could easily spend hours perusing the wares and getting lost in a world of words.
The Sanctuary Bookshop opened its doors to the public in August of 1997 close to the town clock. Previously, the store had been based in South Kensington, Central London. Wander inside at any given moment (the store is open 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM daily) and you can expect to find ten rooms, spread over four floors.
Highlights include a roaring and cosy fire on the lower floor and several reading nooks spread across the store. Free of charge, other services offered include book valuations, book searches, and countless armchairs. If you’re looking for a base from which to explore the area, then The Sanctuary Bookshop even offers a B&B service in the form of the Booklover’s B&B. (find more details here!)
So step in… Who knows what treasure you might stumble upon next?