Lyme Regis - The Cobb


It's an ill wind! When a terrific hurricane shipwrecked Lyme's greatest son, Admiral Sir George Somers, on the island of Bermuda, everything eventually turned out all shipshape and Bristol fashion - for both this country and his hometown.

Sir George, on his way to Virginia on the Seaventure in 1609, quickly claimed Bermuda for England, setting up the nation's first and arguably most affluent and loyal crown colony.

Lyme Regis has always been covetous of its links with the Paradise Island in the Atlantic, and it was no surprise when she officially twinned with St. George's, Bermuda in 1996. Now, the historic former borough's flag is flown frequently in St. George's, symbolising the shared pride and ever growing esteem between the two communities.

Lyme Regis will start to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the colonisation this year at the end of May when a delegation from St. George's will be present for the festivities. The three-day programme will include celebrations in nearby Whitchurch Canonicorum, where Sir George lived at Berne Manor, the unveiling of a statue of him in the seafront gardens at Lyme and a visit to Plymouth.

Sir George, born in 1544, died in Bermuda a year after surviving the shipwreck. His body was brought back to the Cobb, but his heart was buried in Bermuda. A seafarer of extraordinary ability, Sir George was also a talented military leader who prepared Dorset ships to tackle the Spanish Armada. In 1601, he added to his fame by repelling the Spanish fleet off the coast of Ireland. By 1604, Sir George was Mayor and MP for Lyme, and acclaimed for his business acumen and enterprise. Two years later he founded the London Virginia Company.

Sir George, who sailed under Drake, Raleigh and Hawkins, was knighted by James I, some believing he received the accolade for being the secret informant to the court of Queen Elizabeth. It is also contended that Shakespeare based his play The Tempest on the shipwreck of the Lyme admiral, an understandable assumption as Sir George was a man whose exploits courted fame.

Given the historical links between Lyme and Bermuda, the twinning could not be more apt... two beautiful areas, both basking in World Heritage Status.

Further information on Bermuda's history can be found at Bermuda Online.