A wonderfully quirky Grade II listed building, the museum is situated on the site where the famous paleontologist Mary Anning lived. Originally known as the Philpot Museum, it was built in 1901 by Thomas Philpot, a relative of the Philpot sisters who once worked with Mary Anning. The architect, George Vialls, also designed the Guild Hall next door...both buildings a tribute to his idiosyncratic and whimsical creativity.
The museum interior is also a delight, with a rabbit warren of various rooms on four floors accessed by a central spiral staircase. The displays include the history of fossils and geology, appropriately for the World Heritage Jurassic Coast and the part played by the people who made such discoveries, as well as the various authors, artists and inventors who lived here or were inspired by the area...some of whom include Eleanor Coade, the inventor of Coade stone, and the writers John Fowles, Jane Austin and Beatrix Potter.
As well as the Geological Gallery and Writer's Gallery, there are many interesting collections of artefacts, prints and photographs of the local maritime and town history, including the famous Cobb and the town's part in the Civil War.
In the centre of the spiral stairwell hangs the old town bell which dates back to the 17th century.
The top floor is accessed by a metal staircase, below.
There is another spiral staircase (photo below), but it's rather narrow and steep. I didn't try that one!
And outside again, a photo showing homage to two of the most celebrated people of Lyme...a modern-day coade stone of fossils in honour of Eleanor Coade, and a cut-out of the paleontologist Mary Anning with a bubble saying "We are open".
More photos can be seen in the Photo Gallery album along with these.