On an overcast but warm Saturday in September we drove across the Moors from York to see Whitby Abbey, perched over the coastal town of Whitby. It’s a popular weekend town in Yorkshire and families came from all around to enjoy the fresh air and the seafood. We dined on fish and chips at a small diner and then strolled down to the pier.
The kids were thrilled to see a fun house and a roller coaster for kids. We rode on some rides, played some carnival games, and then hiked up the hill to Whitby Abbey for a breathtaking view of ocean and city.
The first monastery was founded here in AD 657. The future of the English church was decided here in 664, when the site was the venue for the Synod of Whitby, when King Oswiu convened a meeting to work out Celtic and Roman differences of religion. Observance of Easter and Roman church customs were some of the issues decided at Whitby.
The abbey itself was rebuilt by the Normans in 1090, and significant parts of it were built again in the 13th and 14th centuries in the English style. Parts of it have been rebuilt over the centuries since then, and the West face collapsed in 1914 due to some naval bombings by Germany.
Bram Stoker famously stayed there in 1890, and used the site as the backdrop for Dracula. He was apparently entranced by the many bats flying around the churches. It is believed that much of the book was actually written on the grounds of Whitby Abbey itself.
It’s an eerie and beautiful place. We took the audio tour and strolled along the path leading to the Abbey. The kids loved standing at the base of the enormous façade and running through the ruins. It’s my favorite site so far in England.
Looking for ghosts at Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey, Abbey Ln, Whitby, North Yorkshire
£18.40 for a family of 5
Good fish and chips in a very casual and child friendly restaurant. The service was good and they had a kids menu. Parking can be a challenge, park at the abbey and walk down the hill to the restaurant.