One of Whitbys most famous landmarks!
Most of the building work seen today is from the 12th and 13th centuries, but St Hildas Abbey was originally founded in 657, where the Synod of Whitby had bound English Christianity to that of Western Europe in 644.
The Abbey housed both men and women, and was destroyed by the Danes in 867. The Danes then renamed the Anglo Saxon town of Streonshalh, Whitby! and began to colonise the Esk Valley.
Farmers, trades and craftsmen migrated from Scandinavia to Whitby, and following conversion to Christianity built churches in the area.
In the 11th century the Abbey was re-established for the Benedictine order, housing about 40 monks.
Today, visitors can learn more about the history in the new visitors centre.
Although I've not been into the centre, there are displays recording the development of the town, and its famous inhabitants, plus archeological finds, audio tours, interactive playcentre and tea room.
At weekends, costumed guides are on hand!
Open 1/4/04-30/9/04 daily 10-6pm
1/10 - 31/3/05 Th-Mon 10 - 4pm
closed 24 - 26/12 1/1/05
I'll find out the dates for 2005 ASAP! but guess they're not too different!
£10 family 2 adults 3 children
under 5's free
15% discount party of 11+
free English Heritage/Overseas Visitors pass holders
Church Street was originally made up of several short streets, and it's irregular plan, that can still be recognised today, dates back from medieval times.
Church Street played an important role as part of the commercial centre of Whitby. The Market Place was built in 1640, with a toll booth.
Records show that fishing vessel owners lived here around 1400. Development in the herring trade, resulted in a growth in population and housing. (About 3,000 lived here in 1700, and upto 4,938 in 1816)
The jet industry also meant that workshops were a common sight around Church Street, with shops and a few workshops continuing today.
Public Houses were to be found here, with at least 20 at one time.
The White Horse & Griffin was a meeting place for Whale Boat captains, and Charles Dickens dined here in 1884.
It was also important as a staging Inn, developing the horse drawn goods trading centre for the area, as the owners, and their horses had somewhere to eat, drink and rest.
Walking along Church Street, you can see evidence of its history, by the buildings and cobbled roadway. 188 buildings on this street are listed as national or historical interest.
Narrow ghauts (passageways) and yards lead off the Street. Some with interesting names, such as Arguements Yard! A popular photo opp!
Nowadays, there are many interesting shops and cafes to keep the visitor busy.
It can become quite crowded during the summer months, but out of season, early morning, or late evening, you can imagine life during earlier times.
After wandering along Church Street, then Henrietta Street, drop down to the sea.
This jetty is to the left, if you're facing out to sea! I've spent many a hapy hour here, just enjoying the sun, the waves crashing nearby, and the sun setting over Whitby town. As you can see from the photo, the concrete path is decorated with ammonites and shells etc.
The annual Musicport Festival will be held 4th - 6th November 2011.
It originated in Whitby in 2000, and is now recognised as the UKs biggest annual indoor world music festival. However, since 2008 the location has moved to nearby Bridlington - So I'll be adding details there later
Check out the web page for ticket details (went on sale March 1st) and line - up - provisional acts at the moment, and waiting to announce head line acts.
Also, check out past festival dates, for an idea of the types of music, and other events-film, cooking etc.
Throughout the year, Musicport holds concerts and events in Whitby and Bridlington, and continues as a non-profit making organisation, promoting live music and music education through Whitby and the surrounding area.
This street is lined with terraced cottages, most of which now appear to be holiday cottages. Also, on the right hand side is Fortunes Kipper shop and smokehouse (see my Fortunes tip)where kippers are cured over oak chippings
This street is quite atmospheric, especially if no one else is about, as you can feel as if you've stepped back in time.
The street dates back to at least the 16th century,when upto 130 houses were constructed along Haggerlythe Cliff.
In 1787 and 1871, landslides resulted in destruction of the houses, with coffins from the cemetery above falling down the cliffside.
The sandy beach below, is known as Collier Hope, as it once sheltered coal ships, that travelled regularly between Newcastle and London.
A short boat trip around the bay will blow away the cobwebs! A chance to escape from the summer crowds, and see a different view of the coastline.
There are a variety of excursions to be found in the harbour area.
Although I didn't go on this particular boat, it looked pretty interesting!
I think it's called The Kingfisher
Grit your teeth and climb the 199 steps to the top of the cliff where the parish church of St Mary's and the ruins of Whitby Abbey can be reached. Don't worry there are resting places on the steps - these were designed as rest for coffins being carried up to the church though! It was up these steps that Dracula is said to have raced up - well he must have been fit! - and fled back down disguised as black dog. The cobbled path at the side is known as the donkey path.
This swing bridge, is the starting point for most of my directions. It's a handy landmark, as it crosses the River Esk, and connects the East and West sides of Whitby.
A bridge appears to have been sited here through much of Whitbys history.
1351, is the first recording of a bridge near to the present one.
Later on, houses on wooden piles overhung the river.
From 1766 to 1835, a draw bridge operated here, but was again replaced in 1835 by a swing bridge. This was a necessary improvement, as the draw bridge had a narrow central span, that caused problems for the shipping traffic.
The present bridge was constructed in 1909, and operates electrically.
Apparently, the bridge was sometimes the scene of rivalry, by gangs from the 2 communities (East & West) of Whitby.
Dating from about 1110 AD, St Marys Church has some unusual features.
Besides the panoramic view over Whitby from the graveyard (where Bram Stoker was inspired to create Count Draculas haunt!) The interior has galleries dating from 1695 - 1818, plus a three decker pulpit (1778) .
The entrance has a gift stall and donations plate/box.
Look out for the notice, stating a disclaimer for knowing which is Draculas grave/where Captain Cook prayed!
Most visitors to Whitby will climb these 199 steps to St Marys Church, then carry on to the Abbey.
Early records show that the stairs were in place at least from 1370, and were made of wood.
In 1774, 103 tons of Sneaton stone, was bought to upgrade this route, with flat sections being constructed 'for the easement of bearers of coffins where they rested their burden on the long climb to the cliff top cemetery'
From the steps you get a good view over Whitby, and out to sea.
In the photo you can see the stairs behind the buildings.
Whitby harbour is situated at the mouth of the River Esk, with a total area of about 80 acres. The arms of the entrance piers- east and west - extend out to sea in a northerly direction -watch out for the winds and high wavs here! There are two lighthouses and two beacons at the entrance, all with fixed lights, the east beacon showing red and the west beacon green.
Although I didn't get to look around the museum at my last visit, it's something I hope to do at a later date.
In 1776 James Cook resided in the attic of this house along with other apprentices of the Quaker Ship owner Captain John Walker.
The house was built in 1688.
The museum tells the story of Cooks life, with many original exhibits of letters, prints and paintings. Rooms are set out in faithful reproductions of the era.
open March - weekends 1100 - 1500
April - October 09 45 - 1700 daily
The explorer who became a national hero when he discovered Australia, began his seafaring career in Whitby. All four of the ships for his expedition were built here too 'Endeavour', 'Resolution', 'Adventure' and 'Discovery' .The Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Grape lane, housed in the former home of Captain John Walker, will give you loads more info on his seafaring life. This house, where James Cook,in 1746 at the age of seventeen, came to be apprenticed, is a historical goldmine with its period rooms, painting and nautical documents.
This road runs adjacent to The Church stairs, and leads to The Abbey House.
During the cholera epidemic of the 19th century, bodies were transported to Tate Hill Pier, then carried by men, or transported by cart to the cemetry, usually under cover of dark.
Again, views over Whitbys rooftops can be enjoyed on the way up or down.
The ruins of St. Hilda's Abbey sit majestically high above the harbour on the East Cliff. Originally the Abbey contained the shrine of St Hild, the founder of the Abbey who died in 680. The Synod of AD664 was held here – the two branches of early English Christianity, the Celtic and Roman churches, debating the dating of Easter, resulting in the Synod deciding in favour of the Roman tradition, which holds to this day.
The Abbey is owned by the English Heritage site and their website can give you deatial of opeing times, admission prices and accessibility.