In 1897 Bram Stoker was inspired by Whitby and the Abbey in particular to write Dracula – and it’s easy to see why! The town is incredibly atmospheric (although if you climb the 199 steps up to the Abbey from the town you may need to sit down for a while in order to appreciate it!) and the winding little streets and quaint shops below the Abbey are a world away from shopping malls and bleak urban planning.
The first monastery at Whitby (then call Streoneshalh) was founded by Oswiu, King of Northumbria, in 657AD, on the possible site of a previous Roman settlement. In 664AD it hosted the Synod of Whitby.
The Abbey was destroyed by the Vikings in 867AD but later re-founded in the 11th century after the Norman Conquest. This second Abbey was destroyed in 1539 under Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the land acquired by the Cholmley family, who used stone from the Abbey to build a house on the site.
By the early 19th century much of the remaining structure of the Abbey had collapsed and in 1914 the Abbey was shelled by the German Navy. The site is now looked after by English Heritage, and the much-improved visitor centre does a reasonable job of explaining the history of the site.
Whitby is easily accessible by car – park either in the Abbey car park or in the town (Pay and display).
The Dracula Experience – speaks for itself
The Magpie Cafe – fresh seafood on the seafront is a must
Whitby Jet – unique jewellery made from jet
Robin Hood’s Bay – former smuggler’s den and picturesque seaside village