Plans finally submitted for long-awaited 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)
Mary Anning statue
A maquette of the proposed Mary Anning statue to be erected in Lyme Regis

A MUCH-ANTICIPATED planning application has been submitted for a statue in Lyme Regis to pay tribute to fossil hunter Mary Anning.

The application, submitted by the organisation Mary Anning Rocks, requests permission for the bronze statue to be sited on a small area at the eastern end of Long Entry.

It follows a long-running campaign for further recognition for Lyme’s famous palaeontologist, launched by fossil-mad youngster Evie Swire and her mother Anya Pearson, who organised a successful £100,000 fundraising campaign for the statue.

The statue is now being made by sculptor Denise Dutton.

Ms Pearson said it was her daughter’s “indignation and anger that sparked this campaign” after being surprised and frustrated there was no tribute to Mary Anning in her hometown.

It was initially suggested that the statue be sited beneath the Marine Theatre on Gun Cliff Walk, but this proposal ran into issues with Dorset Council.

Campaigners now say the new location is most appropriate, as it is where she would have found many of her groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

It is hoped to unveil the statue on May 21 2022, exactly 223 years after Mary Anning’s birth, if planning permission is forthcoming.

The proposal has already won support from Dorchester artist Michal Taylor, a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, who says a statue is long overdue.

In his letter to Dorset Council, which will decide the application, he says: “As a regular visitor to Lyme I consider the sculpture to be a sensitive and appropriate representation of someone who gave so much to science and the region and I support it one hundred percent.”

Early support has also come from local professional fossil collector Brandon Lennon, who has also written to support the proposal.

The application papers, from agents Terence O’Rourke Ltd, say that despite coming from a poor background Anning’s finds changed the way scientists thought about the origins of our planet and how life evolved on it.

“Throughout Mary Anning’s lifetime, her achievements have largely gone unacknowledged with her name having been eradicated from the historic archives due to her being an uneducated, working-class woman and an outsider to the polite and scientific community,” it says, with her discoveries often attributed to the male geologists she collected for.

The application can be found on the Dorset Council website (ref 2021/04897) and remains open for public comment until Christmas Eve. 

By Local Democracy Reporter Trevor Bevins

Mary Anning Rocks statue
The proposed new location reflects the only portrait painted of Mary Anning, with Golden Cap in the background
Woodmead Halls

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