UPDATE - since my last visit, The Old Chapel is now operating as Swell cafe bar and gift shop - It's had a bit of a 'spruce up'! there's a cinema here, where you sit on the original 1820's balconied pews. Since 2009, this has been licensed for Civil weddings and registration of Civil Partnerships.
The Old Chapel dates back to around 1725, when a group of Trustees , brought up land on this site for the construction of 'The Preaching House', with the original foundation stone being laid in 1779. A stone plaque on the front of the building commemorates the visit of John Wesley, when he preached here on the 28th July 1779. The chapel was extended in the mid 19th Century.
Up until the 1930's The Chapel and its neighbouring shops would have been the focal point of village life, The Methodist Chapel closed, as the local worshippers, thought that the sea was getting a bit close! The last service was held on 2nd June 1937.
From my visit in 2004 -
The Old Chapel advertised itself as providing "Food for the Heart, Mind, Body & Soul"
and was divided into 4 separate areas,
-A second Hand bookshop, (possibly the largest 2nd hand bookshop on the NE coast!)
-Ethical and Fairtrade vegetarian organic cafe,
with wide selection of hot/cold drinks/snacks. Vegan options available.
-Amethyst Centre Ethical and Fair Trade shop, 'life enhancing products'! selling ethical goods, local crafts, crystals,scented goods, herbal teas etc etc
I wandered in here, as I'd been told that I could buy a copy of Bayfair (The local monthly guide to RHB)
Surprisingly it wasn't full of ageing hippies / new agers etc.!!
A mixed clientele of all ages were wandering around the shops and eating in the cafe.
Some useful booklets, and an interesting notice board in the entrance giving details of local events, such as local cattle markets etc.
I just had a quick look in Swell - the gift shop had some interesting gifts and clothing - not particularly cheap at first glance.
The cafe wasn't too busy, but looked light and airy
Monday to Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday to Sunday 10:00 - 16:30
30 pence, buys you this monthly 32 page guide to local news and events, local history and nature, accommodation,Tide times, and adverts relevant to Robin Hoods Bay and surrounding areas. (That was the price in 2005)
A Bargain buy!! Now 40p (October 2012) still a bargain!
Available from shops / pubs etc in RHB. I bought a copy from The Old Chapel, and again at Muirs Store.
At the upper end of Robin Hood's Bay, near the Victoria Hotel is this attractive stone sculpture, at first glance I thought that it was an owl, but on closer inspection the round top represented a globe of the world.
Quite a strange piece, with carvings including 'MM 'and 'Post'
Apart from it being created to commemorate the Millennium, I can't find anything else about it!
Nearby are wooden benches, with dedications to deceased family members (pic 4)
A pleasant spot to enjoy the scenery, and to catch your breath after climbing up the steep hill!
While the Womens Institutes are an important part of English village life, previously notorious for 'Jam and Jerusalem' but now immortalised in the film 'Calender Girls', this is the first time that I'd come across The Mens Institute! I must admit, I was a bit curious! Were men inside knitting etc? I couldn't find any info for a while, but got the following from a RHB walk leaflet!
UPDATE - October 2012 - During our recent visit, I spotted an Information board outside this Institute (pic 2)
This building served as the lodge of the 'Independent Order of Oddfellows' from 1810. The Oddfellows evolved from the Medieval Guilds - where there was a variety of tradesmen, but not enough to warrant individual guilds. Members paid a small weekly sum, to protect themselves and their families against the cost of illness, injury or death. The lodge also provided overnight accommodation for members from other Lodges, who were seeking work in the area.
This building became The Kings Head Inn, then became The Temperance Hotel from 1890 -1919.
In 1919, as a gift to 'the young men of the parish' in recognition of their service during The Great War, Fanny Rebecca Smith, William Andrew Smith and Thomas Knightly Smith, donated the building as a place for recreation and a place where these men could relax.
It is now home to The Robin Hoods Bay Snooker team. Although only residents of the parish are eligible to play, visitors can enjoy a game as a guest of a member.
Both men and women living in the parish of Fylingdales can apply for membership to the Institute.
The Coat of Arms of the Oddfellows is displayed high up on the wall (pic 5)
Opposite The Mens Institute is the house where the author Leo Walmsley lived from 1894-1913. (pic 3) He's famed locally for his novels featuring the fictional fishing village of 'Bramblewick' which appears to be based on RHB
More information about his life and works can be seen displayed in the book shop at The Old Chapel. Theres also a Walmsley Society, that holds regular meetings and events in the area.
Near to Robin Hood's Bay are many attractive coastal towns and villages. The North York Moors have a lot to offer too.
Whitby, Scarborough, Bridlington and Filey are the main resorts, each with their own characters.
The villages of Staithes, Runswick Bay and Ravenscar are well worth visiting too.
If you saw the first BBC Coast series you'll have seen this part of the country featured in one episode.
Bus Service 93 runs along the coastal road between Middlesborough and Scarborough, and stops at Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay.
The Esk Valley Railway runs a service between Middlesborough and Whirby.
From Pickering, there is a steam train, run by the North Yorks Moor Railway that stops at Grosmont, where you change for the Whitby train.
Pickering and Grosmont stations featured in some of the Harry Potter films.
The village is lovely with such a variety of houses and cottages, There are some shops, a stream, pubs and a hotel near the jetty.
I just loved it and even the pain from walking down, and up, the steep street was worth it.
The beach is vast with cliffs at either end. Rocks form pools, and the sand is clean.
Passing one bar we saw a trio playing music and singing, and people joining in.
When returning to the car, I saw some men carrying violins who were heading down , obviously to perform.
At Grosmont there is a great old steam railway and train restoration shop. I have been to similar places in the States. The British in my humble opinion do it better. There is a great attention to detail from the tickets to the old station.
Do not miss the restoration shop. We took an impromptu tour through the restoration shop. I am not even that jazzed about trains but I found it fascinating. It is mostly staffed by volunteers. They were very glad to show you what they were up too. I do know something about machine restoration and these folks do beautiful work.
The ride on the train was fun and it was kind of fun to think of what life was like before we lost our mind over the automobile.
All in all this is a great way to get a glimpse of an earlier time in England. I recommend that you do not miss it.
The old police station is now a holiday cottage, which I believe is now owned by a man in York.
However, it does have quite an historical past, especially during the construction of the railway!!
Navvys from the NE of England were employed to work on the Whitby to Scarborough railway. Saturday being payday often led to the money being spent in the local hosteleries, then fighting on the beach with the unamused locals! The nearest police cells being in Whitby.
In 1886, this 'lock up' was built at the cost of £1,500, and only held 2 prisoners! However, 1 man was killed during a fight, and it was decided to quickly finish the rail building.
After the departure of the navvies, the police station received few detainees, so in 1941 it was sold to a local family, and the police station was rehoused in the newer part of the town.
In the other photos can be seen a close up of the info about the police stations history, plus the wooden name sign which has a carved mouse. I'm not sure if this is the work of Robert Taylor ' The Mouseman of Kilburn' a master craftsman, who worked in Oak, with a carved mouse being his 'signature'
On Wayfoot, near the jetty is this collection box, where visitors have been depositing coins since before 1887.
The money collected goes to funding the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), an organisation that provides a valuable service.
The main 2 streets and harbour/ beach area offer plenty to see as you soak up the atmosphere . Off the main roads tho' there are plenty of narrow passageways, paths etc, to wander around. Some take you up onto the cliffs/coast path, or out into fields.
You can imagine easily how life was when fishing and smuggling were the main activities of this peaceful coastal village, before cars and commercialisation arrived!
From the car park at the top of the hill, cross the road, stop for a few minutes to admire the view over the bay, before descending down the steep road into the village. No doubt you'll be stopping quite regularly on the way back to admire the view/ catch your breath!!
This plaque was erected in 1981, a hundred years after a dramatic lifeboat rescue in Robin Hoods' Bay.
The plaque states that on the 18th January 1881, the Brig, 'Visitor' ran aground in the Bay. The storm was so violent that the local lifeboat couldn't be launched.
The lifeboat from Whitby was therefore carried overland for 6 miles. This journey was through snowdrifts reaching 7ft high in places, with the road climbing to 500ft!
200 men worked to clear the road ahead, and 18 horses towed the boat, while men worked up from Robin Hood's Bay to clear the way.
Amazingly, the lifeboat was launched 2 hours after leaving Whitby! , and on its 2nd attempt, the crew were all rescued.
The plaque was placed here to remind future generations of the bravery of Coxwain Henry Freeman and his crew, and the dogged determination of the people of Whitby, Hawsker and Robin Hoods Bay.
Makes the excuses of our railways coming to a standstill over a sprinkling of snow on the lines every year even more of a joke doesn't it!!
Robin Hood's Bay is full of tiny lanes and ginnels, which wind and knot around the village. The village was once a smugglers' haunt, and the layout of the streets meant that they could easily escape the authorities. Just wander around these lanes in the sunshine and you will discover all sorts of interesting things, like this little boat-shaped cottage, which is now rented out to holidaymakers.
Just by the quayside is the old lifeboat station. In 1881, a boat ran aground at sea, but the weather was so bad that the Robin Hood's Bay lifeboat could not be launched. Instead, the lifeboatmen had to drag a lifeboat for eight miles through the snow from the neigbouring town of Whitby to save the lives of the sailors. The story of this dramatic event can be discovered at the lifeboat station, which has been converted to a small museum and shop.
The usual thing to do is park your car in the car park at the top of the village and walk down the steep main street to the beach. this is great - but be sure to take a good walk round all the little narrow streets and by ways that make up the rest of the village.