1539 Map of Charmouth.
Birds Eye view of Coast showing Charmouth, Lyme Regis and its Cobb in 1539.

This astonishing map from 1539 provided a detailed defence plan for Dorset. Beacons were to summon the local populace to the invasion point and new blockhouses were to house cannon. Beyond the military advice, however, there is an attractive depiction of trading vessels and fishing boats.King Henry VIII`s plan was to stop any invasion fleet before it was able to land an army. On the orders of Thomas Cromwell, his chief minister, an extraordinary mapping operation of the south coast was carried out in great haste and the drawings displayed at Whitehall Palace. Although the final maps were pictorial, showing ships and fortifications in some detail, they were also usefully factual, with sea and coast measurements. The key aim was to identify landing points, anticipating how an invasion commander might think. Such beaches were highlighted by exaggerating their size, and sites for possible forts were added in appropriate locations. Charmouh with its Church surrounded by a group of houses is show on the left and Lyme Regis on the right. The quay with a group of boats alongside it in the distance depicts the Cobb, which was seperate from the mainland at that time.