• LOCATION 46 | Essential Whitby: A Guide to the Town’s Legends, Treasures and Main Sites

    Whitby Abbey

    Whitby Abbey on Whitby audio tour Essential Whitby: A Guide to the Town’s Legends, Treasures and Main Sites

    The ruins of Whitby Abbey should be looking a lot bigger than they did at the start of the tour.

    The ruined abbey you are seeing dates not from the days of St Hilda's Abbey - sadly none of this remains - but the Benedictine Monastery in the 13th century. A monastery was reformed here in Whitby in 1078 but its likely the building was wooden. Around 1225 the building which you now see ruined was constructed and built in a Gothic style.

    Near continuous works proceeded from this point until the 1400s. The later architectural style was more Romanesque - this leaves a bit of a mismatch that is very hard to identify exactly.

    The Abbey flourished up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539. From this point the Abbey fell into a state of disrepair - made all the worse because there is little natural shelter from the elements here on the east cliff.

    The abbey fell into disrepair and could be described as a ruin by the time Stoker visited the town in 1890. The final blow came however in 1914 when the German Navy bombarded Whitby. The abbey took most of the fire and was left that day pretty much as you can see it now.

    The Abbey's story is over a millennium in the making and today we are still uncovering history and improving our understanding of this sacred place. My own view is that we will one day unlock the secret as to why the Saxons considered this place so special.

    I told you at the outset that Whitby was an abbey that gained a town, and I hope you have seen just what a special town this is. It hasn't always been plain sailing - pardon the pun - but I've always considered Whitby to be a lucky place. Blessed with alum, jet, oak timber and a majestic beauty that still attracts so many people today.

    Maybe the Northumbrians themselves had equal good fortune here and that's why they decided to place an abbey right here on the headland. Something to think about perhaps as you explore the abbey at your own leisure.

    This is where I'll be leaving you.

    I hope you've enjoyed this exploration of Whitby. It was my pleasure to guide you around today. Please take care and if you are visiting make sure you come and see us again soon.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you took a moment to rate the tour and leave a comment.

    Thanks and goodbye.

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Essential Whitby: A Guide to the Town’s Legends, Treasures and Main Sites