Whitby

The Abbey overlooks the quaint town of Whitby

The North East coast of England is lined with communities which have nestled amongst the fields and hills for centuries.

Embedded into the history of the region, these communities have changed in purpose and appearance across the years whilst the landscape remained unaltered.

One town that fits firmly in this category is Whitby.

The North Yorkshire fishing town has been a commune of some form to people for over 3,000 years, with the Anglo Saxons and Danish being amongst Whitby’s many settlers of the past.

Being a coastal town, the streets of Whitby can be sharp, steep and tricky to drive down and park on.

This is why, if you are driving to Whitby, it is strongly recommended that you use the park and ride.

This is located just on the outskirts of the town, and regular buses drop you off at the bus station which sits almost directly on the harbour

It is the harbour from which thousands of boats across the ages have left from, on journeys across the seas. These days, there are a fair share of pleasure boats which you can get yourself booked on.

The bus drops you off on the north side of the harbour, with a footbridge being the easiest and quickest way to jump to either side.

On the south side, you’ll find a maze of cobbled streets filled with quaint local businesses and pubs around almost every corner.

The remains of Whitby Abbey

Around one such corner, you’ll find the 199 steps. This is the exact number of steps that lead spiral up to a clifftop on which sits the ruins of Whitby’s ancient Abbey.

Founded in 657 AD, the Abbey became a focal point of the Anglo Saxon religious world. For almost 1000 years, it was a key feature of Whitby’s growth as a settlement, up until 1539 when King Henry VIII suppressed the Abbey as part of his Roman Christian cleanse of the country.

In more recent times, it played a significant part in the inspiration behind one of the most iconic pieces of writing in the modern era.

Bram Stoker was so influenced by Whitby and particularly the Abbey that a scene from his ground breaking novel ‘Dracula’ was based at the Abbey.

The Abbey is in ruins, and when I was walking the grounds there was a dark cloud hanging over Whitby which added well to the gothic feel.

The influence of Bram Stoker on Whitby, even after 130 years, is still going strong.

In May 2022, on the 125 anniversary of the novel’s publication, 1.369 people dressed as vampires gathered in the Abbey to set a new record for vampires gathered in one place.

The history of the Abbey is documented in a museum located at the far side of the top of the cliff, and has artefacts that have been found throughout the long, tumultuous timeline of Whitby.

Whitby is a town that has been an influence on one of the greatest works of fiction ever written, and it’s colourful past has made it a place that makes for a great day out and will do for many years to come.

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Patrick Hollis

Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience