There was much excitement in town back in March as cameras rolled for the filming of 'Ammonite', a romantic drama feature film inspired by the life of Lyme’s famous fossil hunter Mary Anning. Parts of the town were given a 19th century transformation, recreating the setting in which palaeontologist Mary Anning lived and worked including the area around Bell Cliff at the bottom of Broad Street, Coombe Street and the Cobb (scroll down for photos).
Oscar winner Kate Winslet famous for her roles in films such as ‘Titanic’, ‘The Reader’ and ‘The Holiday’ plays Mary Anning while three times Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan co-stars in the role of Charlotte Murchison. Also in the cast are Fiona Shaw known for Killing Eve and the Harry Potter films, James McArdle, plus Gemma Jones and Alec Secareanu.
Written and directed by Francis Lee of 2017 God’s Own Country fame, the film follows the unlikely romance between Anning and Charlotte Murchison, a London woman of means sent to convalesce by the sea.
Set in 1840s Lyme Regis, acclaimed but unrecognised fossil hunter Mary Anning works alone on the rugged coastline in search of fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte, she cannot afford to turn his offer down. The pair initially clash before developing an intense bond.
Referred to as the "unsung hero of fossil discovery" by the Natural History Museum, Mary Anning was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis to a family of limited means. Despite minimal education she pioneered the field of palaeontology, but for a long time Anning failed to get the recognition her ground breaking discoveries deserved. The romantic twist injected into the narrative of a working class woman striving to achieve in a male dominated world despite her legendary finds adds further intrigue to an already compelling storyline.
Produced by the BFI, BBC and See-Saw Films, the film is set to be released in cinemas in 2020.
Set makers transformed the area around Bell Cliff, building a two storey fake Georgian house front outside the Seasalt shop, installing a fake stone wall in front of the bus shelter above Cobb Gate car park and converting building exteriors to be in keeping with the period.
An impressive sight on the evening of March 17th 2019 as sailing ship Irene entered the harbour to be used in the filming. Irene is a 100-foot ketch built in Bridgwater in 1907. An iconic example of Britain's rich maritime history.
Filming took place at the end of Cobb with set creators hiding modern features from view including railings, lighting and signage.
Coombe Street had a makeover at the end of March for the filming of 'Ammonite'. The premises of M L Gibson Studio and Tierra Kitchen were transformed inside and out to resemble two stores from the 1840s era and a stable yard was created.