The BridLit Explorer • Chapter 3: The Sanctuary

Opened on August’s Bank Holiday Monday in 1997, this year marks the 20 year anniversary of The Sanctuary bookshop’s landmark presence in Lyme Regis.


The Sanctuary is another independent bookshop with a twist. This is an emporium of curios that takes residence in an 18-roomed building that once was a hotel. Incidentally, having now expanded into a B&B for book lovers, it once again takes residents.

When visiting, I find twixt the shelves and various ornaments Bob Speer, co-owner with his wife Mariko, and ask him about the branching out from sole bookselling to the supplying of vintage trumpets, gadgets and oil paintings that hang from nooks and hooks like angels in a chapel. Bob explains that his approach to the encroaching growth of online bookselling is simple yet ambitious; to out-provide. As I explore I find that it’s evident throughout the multi-storeyed shop. Be it a huge lava lamp you’re looking for or a Venetian mask, The Sanctuary bookshop is determined to supply whatever you could dream up.

Guiding me from the converted cellar that bursts at its seams with antique National Geographic editions to the upstairs guest area where the walls appear to favour books over bricks, Bob tells me that the unique accommodation earned applause from Lonely Planet as #1 for cost – calling it “ridiculously good value” and “a B&B for bibliophiles”. I don’t argue, as I endeavour to note the spines of the 5,000 books all at once. At less than £30 per night, any budding writer in need of a retreat would find themselves almost startlingly at home here.

If you’re local or an adventurer searching for caves of wonders, be sure to stop by. The Sanctuary doesn’t have a quirk, it is a quirk itself. A wonderful, revered quirk, and one that I hope continues to thrive.