The final day of our long weekend started overcast and misty but fortunately not wet. We got in the car and drove across the harbour, past Costa Nostra (the restaurant we used the night before) and up the hill, towards Whitby Abbey. As we approached the Abbey the mist began to clear, giving us our first view of the abbey. After showing our membership cards and buying a guide book we crossed the field to the Abbey. Whitby Abbey is a ruined Benedictine abbey overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of Henry VIII. It is a Grade I Listed building in the care of English Heritage and its site museum is housed in Cholmley House.The first monastery was founded in 657 AD by the Anglo-Saxon era King of Northumbria, Oswy (Oswiu) as Streoneshalh (the older name for Whitby).
The name Streoneshalh is thought to signify Fort Bay or Tower Bay in reference to a supposed Roman settlement that previously existed on the site.The double monastery of Celtic monks and nuns was home to the great Northumbrian poet Caedmon. In 664 the Synod of Whitby – at which King Oswiu ruled that the Northumbrian church would adopt the Roman calculation of Easter and monastic tonsure – took place at the abbey. Reinfrid, a soldier of William the Conqueror, became a monk and travelled to Streoneshalh, which was then known as Prestebi or Hwitebi (the “white settlement” in Old Norse).
The second monastery lasted until it was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The abbey buildings fell into ruins, and were mined for stone, but remained a prominent landmark for sailors and helped inspire Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 8, 1847, Bram Stoker published his first literary work, The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, a handbook in legal administration, in 1879. Turning to fiction later in life, Stoker published his masterpiece, Dracula, in 1897. Deemed a classic horror novel not long after its release, Dracula has continued to garner acclaim for more than a century, inspiring the creation of hundreds of films. Stoker’s Dracula is shipwrecked off the Yorkshire coast, he is actually on his way to London on the Russian schooner, Demeter.
He comes ashore in the guise of a black dog and wreaks havoc on the town. One of the characters in the novel, Mina, keeps a journal containing detailed descriptions of Whitby and those areas frequented by Dracula. Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of “Marmion,” where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows.” In 1914, Whitby Abbey was shelled by German battlecruisers Von der Tann and Derfflinger, aiming for the signal post on the end of the headland. Scarborough and Hartlepool were also attacked. The Abbey sustained considerable damage during the attack, which lasted ten minutes. The ruins of the Abbey are now owned and maintained by English Heritage.The strange thing was that as we arrived at Whitby Abbey the mist cleared, but after an hour or so it had descended again, giving the whole site a spooky feel. Upon leaving the Abbey was virtually invisible from the car park.
Our final visit on our weekend visit was to Great Ayton the boyhood home of Captain Cook. We drove up the coast to get there moving out of Yorkshire and on to Teesside. We passed through the town of Guisborough as the sun started to shine brightly, we also passed the well-known land mark of Roseberry Topping. Captain James Cook, FRS, RN (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. In three voyages Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved.
As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions. Cook was killed in Hawaii in a fight with Hawaiians during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific in 1779. He left a legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge which was to influence his successors well into the 20th century and numerous memorials worldwide have been dedicated to him. The Statue is in the town centre which also houses the church where relatives of Cook are buried. Cook’s mother and siblings are buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church which we visited just before our long journey home.
The present building dates back to the 12th Century, but remains of Anglo Saxon crosses suggest a Church was here prior to this building. All Saints has changed over the years, losing its tower in 1880. It has a triple décor pulpit and was the home Church of James Cook when he lived in the village from aged 8 to 15. His sponsor Thomas Skottowe is also buried in the Church. All this countryside and history was visited only because the weather turned foul and our naked camping trip got cancelled. Luckily the weather relented in the weeks following this trip and “normal naturists outdoor activities” continued, but more about that in future posts.