VITAL restoration work has started on a historic landmark building formerly home to writer John Fowles.

The Landmark Trust has begun work on Belmont at Lyme Regis with the developers moving in and starting preparatory work including ground clearances and setting up on-site offices.

Developers will also erect scaffolding and a temporary cover over the roof in the next couple of months, and will also start dismantling the latter additions of the site.

More than £1.4million has already been raised to fund the project, and the trust needs to raise another £343,000 as soon as possible for the works to be completed.

Caroline Stanford, historian and engagement manager for the Landmark Trust, said: “It’s very exciting to have started work on the restoration of Belmont at last.

The building is not only important to Lyme Regis but also to the whole of the UK, as the home of acclaimed author John Fowles and before him Eleanor Coader, pioneering 18th century businesswoman.

“We had to get work underway to avoid the ravages of another winter on this suffering building, but we still desperately need to raise a further £343,000 to complete the restoration.”

Work is set to be completed in 2015 and will see the building available for holiday rentals for up to eight people.

The impressive building will also host creative writing students and the stables will be transformed into a small museum to celebrate the lives of Belmont’s former inhabitants.

The observatory tower and its revolving roof mechanism will also be restored and a telescope installed by the trust, meaning visitors will be able to stargaze.

Built in 1784 by Samuel Coade, he transferred it to his niece Eleanor Coade, who was the inventor and purveyor of the Coade Stone, which is displayed extensively on the decoration of the front of the house.

In 1968, author John Fowles bought the property and lived there until his death in 2005.

He is one of the most respected British authors of the 20th century and his most famous work is The French Lieutenant’s Woman.