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Lyme Regis Church


We would like to welcome you to this little church – “The House of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.” (1 Timothy 3 : 15.)

The Catholic history of Lyme Regis dates back over a thousand years.  In 774 the King of the West Saxons gave to the monks of Sherborne a grant of land on the Western bank of the river Lym. Lyme takes its name from this river and it is assumed that the addition of Regis was made in the reign of Edward 1st. to form the name of Lyme Regis or King’s Lyme. The royal charter was granted in 1284.  An official seal was made and on it is the first representation of St. George.  On the stern of the seal is represented Michael, the Archangel. To this quaint seal, one assumes, the present church owes its dedication to St. Michael, the Archangel and St. George, the Protector of England.

Early post reformation history of the Church in Lyme is meagre. The few Catholics about here travelled to Exeter or Chideock until the Axminster church, to which they liberally subscribed, was opened on the 15th August, 1831.  It was to the piety and generosity of Mrs. Bellingham that the Catholic Church in Lyme owed its establishment. On settling here with her son and three daughters, she obtained permission from Bishop Baines to have a resident priest. He celebrated Mass in the house of Edward Hebden, now the vicarage, and also, in a house at the Cobb, on which site now stands the coastguard buildings.

Mrs. Bellingham’s only son died with his regiment in India. In his desk, his mother found £100 and with this she began a fund to finance the building of a church in Lyme.. The present site of the church was purchased for £273 on the 17th. February 1835.  Father Charles Fisher, the first priest, had the foundation stone laid on 23rd. April 1835 and building commenced to the design of E. Goodridge, of Bath. Mass was first offered in the new, yet unfinished church, on 27th. August 1837.

Many priests served this parish in the early period and it is known that one resided in the cottage called St Heliers in Silver Street. Perhaps the most eminent was Father William Vaughan, who later became the second Bishop of our diocese of Plymouth, a post which he retained for forty seven years. It was he who built the presbytery to Welby Pugin’s design and he moved in on the first day of 1839. In about 1840, a school was built, the ruins of which lay at the western end of the church until the present function room was constructed recently. In 1851 the Lady Chapel was completed. The stained glass window behind the High Altar depicting the Immaculate Conception and St. Michael and St. George , was presented in June 1883.  At a cost of £140, it was the work of Messrs.Westlake, Lavers and Company of London . The church spire and tower were completed in 1886 .

Do pray for all who handed down to us , such a beautiful church.

‘What praise such men will have in eternity. It is not ours to judge – they were at least great men and deserve, beyond controversy, the brief homage of their fellows “.

Mgr. Ronald Knox.

Lym Zim

Jo Enright
Jo Enright

If you visit our church in Lyme Regis or indeed in any of our three-parish churches, you are likely to read or hear something about Lym Zim.   Lym Zim was set up in 2003 to raise funds for projects in Zimbabwe.  My brother Fr Brian Enright SJ is well known in the parish having spent time with my parents who had been parishioners in Lyme until their deaths in the mid ‘90’s.  Brian has been based in Zimbabwe since 1968 and when I visited Brian in 2000, parishioners asked me to identify projects for the parish to send direct support to where they would get immediate and reliable feedback about how funds had been used.

Our first project was to equip a bare physiotherapy room at a Leonard Cheshire Home for Disabled Children shipping out equipment which at the time was unavailable in Zimbabwe.  We achieved this within two years and on my next visit I was made aware that the boy’s accommodation house had fallen down so we set about raising funds towards rebuilding it. The economic climate at the time in Zimbabwe was in freefall but with the help of other organisations we not only rebuilt it but were able to build a disability resource centre which is used by children and families throughout Harare and Zimbabwe where clinics are run by medical staff, groups for young people with disabilities meet regularly, a variety of therapies are offered and much more.

I visited again to open the new building and whilst there met others who needed our support namely the Emerald Hill School for the Deaf in Harare where we pay the school fees for two deaf girls who without our support would receive no formal education and The Pedro Arrupe Centre which provides education and a home for several deaf children at the Musami Mission run by the Jesuits. Both Emerald Hill and Musami Mission have excellent web sites of their own for those interested to follow up.

The two projects we now support are always in dire need of funds. The children at Emerald Hill receive a first class education in addition to specialist services for their hearing impairments. The Musami Mission is in a very poor area of Zimbabwe and operates a school, hospital, parish church, clinics as well as the Pedro Arrupe centre which is home to several children. Standards at Pedro were poor when I first visited but with our support they now have a running water supply and electricity and gradually the thatched round houses where the children live are being upgraded with new monkey and fire proof roofs!

The needs at both projects will never end. Any additional funding we are able to send is used to improve facilities for all the children at Emerald Hill and Pedro Arrupe. We now aim to raise around £6000 each year which is less than the £10k we used to raise but fundraising has got harder in recent years, supporters have died and attracting new ones is difficult and sadly I no longer have the energy for so many fundraising events! Our main source of income comes for a weekly draw with members giving £1 weekly with a chance to win £10. We are more than grateful to the very many who immediately donate their winnings back to the Link and to many others who simply send donations when they can.

Further information about the Link and the Draw can be got from Jo Enright 01297 443796.

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For the latest Lym Zim news, please go to the most recent Three Parish News magazine on this website.