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Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey was originally established in 657 of our Common Era (CE). However, at this time, it was known as Streoneshalh. It is situated on the East Cliff in the beautiful English county of North Yorkshire, boasting incredible views of the sapphire North Sea.

It is recognised as a Grade I Listed Building, which means that it is of high value (as deemed worthy by the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest) and cannot, by law, be demolished, extended or altered without the necessary special permission from the local planning authority.



The choir enclosure of Whitby Abbey in the early morning sunlight. The place that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula.

Streoneshalh was established by the King of Northumbria, an Anglo-Saxon ruler called Oswy. Under his instructions, Lady Hilda was made the abbess of Hartlepool Abbey, while the niece of Edwin (the first Christian king of the area) was elected as the founding abbess. St. Hilda’s convent was Celtic in style, which has been confirmed by the fascinating archaeological remains. Men and women lived separately, but worshipped together, as was customary in double monasteries of the time. St. Hilda was renowned for her incredible wisdom, which was combined with a humble, genuine interest in the common folk of the day. This led to a huge amount of respect for this saint, causing even royal leaders to consult with her for advice. She died at only 66 years of age.

There are several theories regarding the origin of the name, Streoneshalh, but none have been confirmed as being absolutely correct. When the Danes invaded between 867 and 870, they desolated Streoneshalh; a condition that lasted some two centuries following the destruction.

The second monastery was established by Reinfrid, one of William the Conqueror’s soldiers who became a monk and was handed the ruined monastery of St. Peter. This monastery followed the Benedictine rule and lasted until 1540, when King Henry VIII destroyed it in response to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Interestingly, when Reinfrid acquired the monastery from William de Percy, de Percy also gave him the parish church of St. Mary, six dependent chapels, and several mills.


The dependent chapels were at:


There were more gifts, which are listed in the ‘ Memorial’ in the abbot’s book, providing visitors with a fascinating read. Reinfrid was the prior until his accidental death, and was followed by Serlo de Percy.

Whitby Abbey attracts a multitude of local and international visitors every year. Part of the appeal is its close proximity to so many other popular attractions in the vicinity. Some of these include:

‘scarborough Castle
.The Hole of Horcum . a gorgeous section of lush valley in the North York Moors.
.Malham Cove . a natural limestone formation.
.Roman Signal Stations . dating back to the fourth century of our Common Era.
.Bempton Cliffs . a breath-taking nature reserve.
.Danes Dyke
.Flamborough Head
.Rudston Monolith
.Lathkill Dale . home to an array of exquisite fauna and flora.

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