Two charities attempting a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to raise £18,000 in a matter of hours to save a handwritten letter by pioneering palaeontologist Mary Anning have smashed their target.

The Jurassic Coast Trust, in partnership with Lyme Regis Museum, needed to raise the money before it goes to auction today (Tuesday) at 2pm.

They want to bring the letter home where it can be displayed in Lyme Regis Museum and continue Mary’s legacy.

The letter, sent to Rev. William Buckland in 1829 regarding a box of coprolite (fossil poo) and detailing a new Plesiosaur that Mary had discovered at Lyme Regis, is a unique piece of local heritage and palaeontological history.

A crowdfunder has been set up and can be found at

Supporters have manged to raise an amazing £20,547.

A spokesman for Jurassic Coast Trust said: “Mary was a pioneering palaeontologist who sadly remained unrecognised and unappreciated throughout much of her life. She was unfairly treated by leading academics and often did not receive full credit for her immeasurable talent. Mary demonstrated exceptional resilience to overcome many hardships in life coming from an impoverished, working-class family. By securing this exceptional piece of history, Lyme Regis Museum will be able to share the historic significance of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site with future visitors to the coastline."

The letter is due to be sold at Sotheby’s auction house on Tuesday, August 4 at 2pm. You can see the auction listing here:

David Tucker, director of Lyme Regis Museum, said: "We know it’s a big ask – but it would be absolutely wonderful if we could obtain the letter for the museum. Having a letter written by Mary to the great scientist William Buckland (too a local boy) would be a wonderful acquisition. It would also be a great bit of partnership work between two Dorset-based charities.

"As the museum battles with the financial implications of Covid 19 and the need to protect our volunteers, visitors and staff, we are relying on the generosity of our many supporters to help us reach this figure."