Our quick guide to things to do in Yorkshire focuses on the the ancient town of Whitby which has been the scene of the Synod when the date of Easter was fixed, held at the Abbey of St Hilda; nurtured Caedmon, the first English poet; has fostered the genius of Captain Cook and his sailing ships, built in the town; fathered the abilities and bravery of the Scoresby family, the finest sailors and whalers of their day; hosted authors the likes of the great Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker author of “Dracula”.
Whitby Abbey Visitor Centre
Perched dramatically on the cliff top, Whitby Abbey founded in 657 AD is a magnificent reminder of the early church’s power and dedication and has been combined with Cholmley House to provide a unique view of the history of Whitby. The Abbey contained the shrine to the abbey’s founder, St Hilda, who died in AD680 and symbolised the continuing Christian tradition in the north. The abbey’s gaunt and moving remains have associations as diverse as Victorian jewellery, whaling and Count Dracula. Cholmley House was the home of the noted Yorkshire family since the dissolution of the monasteries and through the Civil War period.
St Mary’s Church
Found at the top of the 199 steps the parish church of Whitby can also be accessed by road. An unusual lay out with high sided family pews and a gallery above, the pulpit has three levels and the roof lights resemble those set into a ships deck. The graveyard has a great number of empty graves due to many of Whitby’s inhabitants being lost at sea; it also has links to “Dracula” Bram Stoker’s famous book.
Dracula Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker was born in Dublin in 1847 and his story of Dracula, is one of the best selling books of all time throughout the world. “Dracula” is perhaps the best known tale of horror of horrors that has ever been published. Bram Stoker observed the sinking of the “Dimitri”, a Russian schooner that sank just outside the harbour of Whitby. Drawing from this experience and the atmosphere of the town, using Whitby characters he completed and published in 1897, the novel of sexual repression and Gothic horror, which remains unsurpassed in its ability to shock. You may never read the book, you may never have seen one of the many films produced, but you will surely have heard of “Count Dracula” and his powers over the living.
The black stone has been found and worked by local craftsmen for centuries. Each piece is handled ten times in a method of working that has not changed for over 150 years. Craftsmen can be seen today, working their skills on the black stone, known as “Whitby Jet”, turning it into the finest jewellery. Sales boomed on the death of Albert the prince consort, husband to our great Queen Victoria, who insisted on nothing better than black for dress or jewellery.
Pannet Park Museum
An independent museum, one of the very few still run by a Literary & Philosophical Society. The museum starts the story some 180 million years ago with the creatures of the ancient sea which covered the Whitby area, through to the ice age and coming of man. St Hilda and Whitby Abbey are briefly described, the medieval period, the eighteenth century and the great sea captains like Cook and the Scoresbys are covered. Local industries such as railways, tourism, jet, shipbuilding and fishing and their impact on the town are displayed in the many collections on show.
The small moorland village where the television series Heartbeat is centred, with further filming taking place throughout Whitby. The NYMR railway station also features in Heartbeat and was the scene for Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter Films.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
NYMR Whitby Endeavour Steam Services are operating throughout the season with return trips from Pickering to Whitby via Grosmont, Goathland and Levisham.The railway is both lovingly preserved and charmingly authentic with smoke and steam pouring from the engines to the cosy wood-panelled carriages and the quaintly manned stations along the route. A real journey into the past.