If like me your approach to autumn is all about new pencils, notebooks and jewel coloured folders rather than falling leaves, wood smoke and soup, then take note. The Writing Room in Lyme Regis is a recently established specialist stationery shop, a place to write and a haven for literary creativity. I am hoping this review is not tinged with an unattractive hew of envy wishing I had thought of this idea before the owner and writer Janis Lane did.
Situated in the very room that, rumour has it, Jane Austen once dined in, in a quirky Georgian building at the bottom of bustling Broad Street, Janis has created a stationery lover’s idyll. There are clever displays using vintage shelving, cubby holes, a fireplace and letter press drawers packed full of beautiful things. Lamy fountain pens in an array of colours sit alongside a similar rainbow selection of Leuchturm notebooks. Beautiful hand printed cards, stamps from the excellent English Stamp Company, ingenious brass extendable pencils and Staedtler essentials line up. Perfect presents include a range of lovingly sourced vintage fabric covered notebooks and classics made by Emma Williams, bookmarks and Harry Potter-esque quills.
Children are equally considered and encouraged to start their stationery obsession early with junior fountain pens, colouring and activity books, bundles of divine coloured card and themed notebooks. There are sweet jars full of barley sugar, bitter lemons and humbugs which Janis weighs out on her scales and bags up ready for you to tuck into later on that imagined window seat or cosy corner with a book.
Directly under a Georgian sash window is a small writing desk where you are invited to sit a while and write a letter to someone which Janis will then post for you. A lost art that she is keen to remind people of and one of the reasons she embarked on The Writing Room. Janis agrees with the thought that writing letters can be a good way of finding your ‘voice’ as a writer saying ‘I'm developing an idea that letter writing has so many qualities: for fiction writers and as good old fashioned correspondence skills. Not forgetting the joy of opening a letter when on the receiving end. It's like sending flowers ... ‘
As you would expect Janis has a big background in writing from broadcast journalism to an MA in Creative Writing to short stories and a recently completed novel. She has created a space that she needed for her work and her life, full of things she has a passion for and this has resonated with her customers. ‘Everyone comes in and says oh I love stationery’, she laughs, ‘well who doesn’t?!’ There are great plans for the future including an informal weekly writing group, workshops covering letter writing and calligraphy. "It's about offering a breathing space, a respite from the pressures and pace of digital life. Using a proper pen, remembering how lovely it is to write a letter, a story, that there are other ways to communicate’.
Jane Austen would love it here. www.writingroomlyme.com