Yorkshire

Whitby

A bustling and popular seaside town dating back to 657 AD on the east coast of Yorkshire.

At A Glance

Whitby is a seaside town that lies on the east coast of Yorkshire. Through the quirky, narrow streets you will find everything from 18th century architecture to a wide variety of arcades, shops and eateries opening up to a fishing port and sandy beaches overlooked by the prominent, Gothic Whitby Abbey 199 steps above.

The very origins of Whitby are unknown but the first monastery was founded in 657 AD. It was destroyed between 867 and 870 by the Vikings and the site remained desolate for more than 200 years later. After the Norman Conquest of 1066 the land was granted to William de Percy and then gifted to found the Benedictine monastery, town, port and churches, that remain today, as well as mills. Whitby Abbey become disused in 1539 when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.

In later years Whitby Abbey was shelled by German battle cruisers — who were aiming for the Coastguard Station — in which it sustained considerable damage.

Whitby Abbery
Whitey Abbey

Today, Whitby is a popular tourist destination. Divided by the River Esk, with small piers either side, the west houses the largest proportion of the town. Housing and parking lead onto West Cliff — with the famous Whale Bone arch standing tall — dotted with seating overlooking the bay. Winding down deep into the town you will find a variety of shops, arcades and award winning restaurants, most notably for their fish and chips — a great compliment to this old fishing port.

On the east side you will find the ‘old town’ consisting of the narrow 18th century streets terraced with little shops. You will also find St Mary’s Parish Church and, most iconically, Whitby Abbey. Atop a 199 step climb you can visit the ruins and also get breathtaking views across the whole of Whitby, it’s port and beaches.

Whitby Wale bones on West Cliff
Whale bones arch on West Cliff

Captain Cook

Whitby is not just a traditional seaside resort, yes it has blue Flag beaches and award winning fish and chips but most of all it is steeped in history.

Captain Cook is probably one of its most famous maritime residents and the museum celebrating Cook’s life is located in the very house where Cook lodged and trained as a seaman in the mid 18th century in Grape Lane.

The maritime skills he acquired transporting coal from the east coast to London would eventually lead to his epic voyages of discovery. Captain Cook Memorial Museum is open daily from February until November.

You can also set sail daily from Whitby in a 40% replica of the Bark Endeavour.

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula

If ever a town was associated with a literary character, it’s Whitby and Count Dracula.

Author Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby in the late 1800s, and was so inspired by its ruined abbey and clifftop church he created his most famous character. Dracula arrives in this country after his ship runs aground off Whitby, and runs up the famous 199 steps in the guise of a black dog.

Visit the spine-chilling Dracula Experience or look out for one of the regular Dracula events run by English Heritage at Whitby's dramatic abbey or join a guided 'In Search of Dracula' Whitby Walk. Today the town hosts a bi-annual goth weekend, started in 1994 thousands of adults and children come to celebrate the goth subculture, and others such as punk and steampunk.

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Bram Stoker
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