New location unveiled for Mary Anning statue

Mary Anning Rocks statue
Mary Anning Rocks trustee Brandon Lennon standing by the new location for the Mary Anning statue (please note, this mock up is not to scale)

A STATUE of famous fossil hunter Mary Anning is set to be unveiled in her hometown of Lyme Regis next year, on what would have been her 223rd birthday, if planning consent is forthcoming.

Having raised £100,000 for the statue through a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Mary Anning Rocks organisation made public complaints that delays at Dorset Council were holding up the project.

After the story hit the national press, Mary Anning Rocks says it is now working much closer with Dorset Council and hopes to be able to unveil the much-awaited statue in a newly-proposed location on May 21 2022, which would have been Mary’s 223rd birthday.

Planning permission is being sought to site the life-size statue on the corner where Long Entry meets Gun Cliff Walk, as shown in the images, which is where she would have found many of her groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

It had previous been proposed to site the statue below the Marine Theatre on Gun Cliff Walk.

The new location is said to reflect the only known portrait of her, with Golden Cap as the backdrop.

Mary Anning Rocks has received full consent from the landowners and is now working on a planning application with the aim of submitting it before the end of the year.

The application will include heritage and ecologist reports as the location is part of a World Heritage Site and designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance.

Dorset Council has said it will try to deal with the application quickly in time for the unveiling on May 21 2022 and artist Denise Dutton has now started work on the statue.

Mary Anning Rocks statue
The proposed new location reflects the only portrait painted of Mary Anning, with Golden Cap in the background
Mary Anning statue
A maquette of the proposed Mary Anning statue to be erected in Lyme Regis

Who was Mary Anning?

Mary was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 to a poor working class family and lived on the site of Lyme Regis Museum, which includes a wing named after the fossil hunter.

She collected and sold fossils from the Lyme Regis and Charmouth area from a young age, and her discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton; the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside of Germany; and fish fossils.

During her lifetime she was not fully accepted in the scientific community because of her gender and class, but Mary is now known as one of the most influential women in the history of science.

Mary died in 1847, aged 47, of breast cancer. A beach hut on Lyme Regis seafront – managed by Axminster and Lyme Regis Cancer Support for the sole use of those affected by cancer – was named after Mary in 2020.

Mary’s grave can be found in the churchyard at St Michael’s Parish Church in Lyme Regis.

She was recently depicted by Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet in the movie ‘Ammonite’, filmed partially in Lyme Regis and Charmouth in March 2019.

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