Visit the Centre to see our amazing fossil collections and find out how to discover your own fossils on the beach. Admission to the Centre is FREE however as a small charity, your kind donations help keep the Centre open. We welcome over 100,000 visitors a year and the Centre is your first stop to discovering the Jurassic Coast and its fossils.
The Centre provides information on fossils, fossil hunting and the local coastal and marine wildlife. Facilities at the centre include hands on displays, marine tanks and a video microscope, all of which can help you to discover more about our stretch of the coastline. You will always find a helpful warden or volunteer who can help you identify your fossil finds. The Centre also has ramp access.
Our Jurassic Theatre shows a short film on ‘The Jurassic Coast and Finding fossils at Charmouth’ (adults £1, children 50p). We also have a shop stocked with books for all levels, including some of our own publications, toys and souvenirs.
Throughout the year we run guided fossil hunting walks, rockpooling, beach cleans and nurdle hunts along the local coastline. The Centre also has an extensive education programme. For information about the activities we have to offer to school groups please see our Primary Schools and Secondary Schools sections.
History of the Centre
The Centre was set up in 1985 to encourage safe and sustainable collecting of Jurassic fossils from the local beaches. Since that time we have slowly expanded and now have three wardens plus a large group of hard-working volunteers. Being a charitable trust we are reliant on the support of a large and active friends organisation who help to man the desk, build displays and undertake management roles. Our latest phase of improvement was supported by the Fine Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Meet the Wardens
Phil Davidson – Manager for Geology and Palaeontology
“I graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a degree in Palaeobiology and Evolution in 2007. I was a volunteer at the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL and the enquiries officer for the Palaeontology Department at The Natural History Museum in London before moving to Charmouth. I have been fascinated by fossils since I got my first dinosaur toy for my 5th birthday (Norman the Stegosaurus, who is still with me on my desk at the centre) and unlike most sensible kids, I never grew out of it! Working here at Charmouth, one of the most famous fossils sites in the world is my idea of a dream job.”
Alison Ferris – Manager for Earth, Marine and Environmental Science
“My interests in rocks and fossils began when I was very young going out collecting with my dad. I went onto college in Gloucestershire to study my A levels in Geology, Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Science and continued onto the University of Gloucestershire to gain my degree in Physical Geography with Environmental Science. After University I volunteered for a few nature projects and worked at the Royal Agricultural University assisting with PhD projects before finding my way to the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. I came here in 2009 initially as a seasonal warden before returning to university to study for my MSc in Earth’s System Science and as a Finds Officer with Portable Antiquities Scheme. I am now very happy to be back at Charmouth as a manager and have a fantastic view out of the window!”
Anna Holbrook – Manager for Education and Outreach
“From a young age I’ve been fascinated by coastal landforms and wildlife, but my love of fossils really started while studying Geology at A level, alongside Geography and History. Fast forward a few years and I had graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London with a degree in Geology and an MSc in palaeontology. I made the most of the long summer breaks from university, spending my time volunteering with Lyme Regis Museum and the Jurassic Coast Trust, discovering that helping people fossil hunt really is what I love to do! I came to the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre in 2018 and have never looked back!”