Spotlight on Elizabethan Lyme Regis

PUBLISHED: 07:02 24 December 2017

Admiral Sir George Somers who founded Bermuda

Admiral Sir George Somers who founded Bermuda

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Peter Lacey's new book focusses on Lyme's famous seafaring mayor - Admiral Sir George Somers

The book coverThe book cover

Two East Devon Knights are featured in local author Peter Lacey’s long awaited latest book “Elizabethan Lyme Regis.”

Colyford born Sir Thomas Gates was interim governor of Bermuda, having been aboard Sir George Somers’ ship Sea Venture, shipwrecked off the islands in 1609 when the former Lyme Mayor colonised the island in the Atlantic.

Axminster’s Sir John Yonge, who owned mansions in Colyton and the carpet town, helped to scupper the fleeing Spanish Armada, seeking refuge in Calais, by allowing his vessel, “Bear Yonge” to be used as a fire ship.

The book, which took the author five years to research, reveals previously unpublished facts about the life and times of one of Lyme’s greatest heroes.

Author and historian Peter Lacey. Picture: CHRIS CARSONAuthor and historian Peter Lacey. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

It gives a fascinating insight into Sir George’s career and his journey to becoming one of the most successful mariners of such a swashbuckling era. As well as a merchant seaman, adventurer and the founder of England’s oldest crown colony, he was also very influential in the granting of national permission to be a privateer.

Book publishers South West Maritime History Society previously gave Mr Lacey an award for exceptional research, an accolade fully deserved for this book describing a very colourful, expertly crafted and illuminating account of Lyme life in the Elizabethan era.

Violence in the resort, recognised at the time as Dorset’s principal port, was a very common occurrence.

Gentlemen carried swords, and daggers were commonplace. The standard fine for spilling blood was nine pence.

Beer and wine were daily beverages. And alcohol and weaponry were a potent mixture not compatible with keeping the peace.

Law breakers ended up in the town dungeon (The Dark House), while other punishments included the stocks, pillory, cage whipping and the ducking stool and the last resort - hanging.

Religion motivated many aspects of the way of life and Sunday church attendance was compulsory.

Paradoxically, however, after-church entertainment included bear baiting and cock fighting!

Mr Lacey, who intends to extend his writing to include fiction, told The Herald: “I would like to thank The Friends of Lyme Regis Museum for their help with the book launch.”

The book is priced £12.

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