VISITORS from Lyme Regis’ twin town of St George’s, in Bermuda, will be arriving next week for an annual commemoration of Admiral Sir George Somers.
Sir George Somers, a former Mayor of Lyme Regis, colonised Bermuda after being shipwrecked off the islands in 1609. He had been leading a fleet of ships taking supplies to the new English colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in the USA, when they ran into a terrible storm.
Sir George’s flagship, ‘Sea Venture’, was separated from the other boats and the experienced seaman eventually managed to steer it onto the coral reefs that surrounded Bermuda, with all 150 crew and passengers making it to shore alive. The wreck is thought to be the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play ‘The Tempest’.
The islands had previously been discovered by the Spanish but, known as the ‘Isle of Devils’, they were feared by superstitious sailors and had never been settled.
But instead of evil spirits, Sir George and his crew and passengers discovered an island paradise with plentiful resources.
They remained on the island for 10 months and, using the wreck of ‘Sea Venture’ and the plentiful Bermudian cedar wood, built two smaller boats to continue their journey – ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Patience’. Sir George eventually completed his trip to Jamestown, leaving two people behind – the first permanent residents of Bermuda.
On arrival in Jamestown, Sir George found the colony almost completely wiped out by starvation and disease. He returned to Bermuda to gather more supplies, but died on the island in 1610. He heart was buried in Bermuda and his body was returned to the Cobb in Lyme Regis for burial in his hometown of Whitchurch Canonicourm, near Charmouth.
The historic story has led to long-lasting links between Lyme Regis and St George’s, in Bermuda, which were officially twinned in 1997. Every year, a party from St George’s visits Lyme Regis for the Admiral Sir George Somers Commemoration Parade, and a reciprocal trip is made from Lyme to St George’s every April for the Peppercorn Ceremony.
Lyme Regis and St George’s were ‘tripled’ with Jamestown, Virginia, in 2015, creating the Historic Atlantic Triangle.
This year’s Admiral Sir George Somers Commemoration Parade will be held on Wednesday, July 25. The procession will set off from the Pound Street entrance to Langmoor Gardens at 11am, heading down Broad Street, along Marine Parade and to the end of the Cobb, where there will be a short service and flag raising.
Invited guests will then have lunch at the Royal Lion Hotel before heading to Whitchurch Canonicorum for a church service.
Town crier Alan Vian will also give a cry at the Admiral Sir George Somers statue in Langmoor Gardens at 10am, before the parade, where an information board detailing his legacy will be unveiled.