A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places with a Description of the Lakes and a Sketch of a Tour in Wales and Itineraries, Illustrated with Maps and Views (1803) by R. Phillips:
The proximity of Lyme and Charmouth for they are within two miles of each other, and the constant intercourse which is kept up between those who visit either the one or the other , evinces the propriety of classing them together. As Lyme however is the most important and the best frequented, it first claims attention. This ancient borough town, which is governed by a mayor and other corporate officers , and returns two members to serve in parliament ,stands in Dorset but on the borders of Devon, distant about 143 miles from London. It is built on the declivity of a craggy hill at the head of a little inlet of the sea, and contains many respectable looking houses with pleasant gardens, particularly in the upper part of the town; but the streets are steep and unpleasant. In the lower part of the town the houses are mean, and the streets so intricate, that a stranger, as has been wittily remarked, will sometimes find himself bewildered and entangled as if he were thridding a forest or the labyrinth of a fox-den. Here the lower order of the inhabitants in general reside, having accidentally that position which nature and fortune have assigned them. To be a person of consideration at Lyme it is necessary to toil up the hill and to fix one's abode where it is in danger of being assailed by every wind that blows. Altogether , however, Lyme is not an unpleasant place for company, in the bathing-season; for whose use and accommodation several machines are erected in the beach, which is pebbly, and consequently uncomfortable to walk on. Lyme has a small Assembly-Room, Card-Room and Billiard-Table all conveniently ranged under one roof ; and had the Library been joined to it, all the amusements which the place can furnish would have been comprise din one building. The situation for this edifice is happily chosen, as it commands a charming marine view as far as the Isle of Portland, eight leagues off, and the interior is compact and well arranged. Magnificence is not essential to enjoyment: often more happiness is found in a cottage than in a palace; and the rooms at Lyme frequently exhibit as cheerful countenance as are to be seen at Bath or Brighton. The Golden Lion and Three Cups are respectable houses of entertainment and lodgings may generally be procured on easy terms, and without difficulty. This town has a share of the Newfoundland and coasting trade, but both have long been on the decline. Properly speaking, Lyme has neither creek or bay, road nor ruin; yet it has a harbour of the most singular construction; called the Cobb, where ships ride in perfect safety. The materials o this rude harbour or pier are vast stones, weighted out of the sea, and arranged in such a manner as to break the violence of the tide which has here made great incroachments, the cliffs being composed of a kind of marle and blue clay incorporated with lime, which easily give way. Even the church here is said to be in danger; yet no attempts are made to secure it from the levelling principals of the waves; though Lyme is neither deficient in religion or loyalty. Lyme upon the whole may perhaps be regarded, when compared with other sea-bathing places, as one of the most eligible and best adapted for answering the various purposes for which it has for some time past been the rage to make annual excursions to the coast. These objects, it is likewise worthy of remark may, on this comparatively retired and humble spot, be secured in a manner more compatible with the rigid rules of economy , than at places of more public and splendid resort: places which will , in general, be found better calculated to ruin the fortunes, than to mend the constitutions, of their fashionable visitors. Lodging and boarding at Lyme are not merely reasonable , they are even cheap; the dissipation of the healthy, and the suitable accommodations of the sick are within the reach of ordinary recourses. It is frequented principally by persons in the middle class of life, who go there, not always in search of their lost health, but as frequently perhaps to heal their wounded fortunes, or to replenish their exhausted revenues. The resources for intellectual improvement or gratification are in this pretty much what they are in most other places of a similar nature : the libraries are neither copious nor select; although principally composed of novels ,many of the best even in this class of books are wanting, as well as some in the most respectable and popular amongst the periodical publications. Neither Monthly Magazine nor the Monthly or Critical Reviews were to be met with during the last summer, at any of the literary lounges of this place.
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