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Illuminating the Yorkshire Coast

Free Photos, Whitby in Lights, North Yorkshire

Article By: Dave Roberts

First Published: 5 September 2011

Set high upon the headland overlooking the historic fishing port of Whitby is the gothic style ruins of Whitby Abbey. Said to have inspired Bram Stoker's novel 'Count Dracula', it is a popular visitor attraction that is preserved and managed by 'English Heritage'.

The first shot in this set was taken from the grounds of Abbey House, just to the side of the Abbey itself. Abbey House is now owned and operated by the YHA as a popular Youth Hostel.

Anyone who has climbed the 199 steps leading up to the Abbey will have passed through the graveyard where rumours abound of it being haunted, or being the burial place of Stoker's Transylvanian character of fiction; The Count Dracula himself. All rumour and fiction aside, St Mary's Church is the Parish Church of Whitby, like many churches it has seen an evolution in its creation and preservation. The earliest parts of the building are Norman and the interior mainly pre-Victorian, 18th century.

The graveyard without doubt can be quite spooky sending shivers down the spine of its night time visitors, while I was there taking these shots, there was a light fog causing the light to filter - spreading the light wider. On days of a thicker sea fret, the graves can be seen poking out through the fog and can look very chilling indeed.

The next shot is taken from the famous 199 steps, overlooking rooftops and capturing the illuminations of Whitby which are mirrored in the estuary of the River Esk below. The orange haze of street lighting accentuated by the mist in the air. Then a shot looking down the 199 steps lit up by a street lamp. While I was taking this latter shot of the steps, a young child of about 5-years-old was running up with his parents, who were just managing to keep up with him - only to descend a few moments later with the youngster in tears, his mum commented he was frightened by the grave yard. I can imagine the little lad's shock as the next two images are what would have greeted him as he reached the top of the steps, the light mist in the air seeming to hang around the lamps, adding to the eeriness of the vision presented to him.

This next photo isn't a panorama of Illuminated Whitby, rather a focus on a fewer illuminated buildings, with slight orange haze and the moon just peeping through the clouds. And the next frame quite similar, but I left the shutter open for a short while then deliberately moved the camera around to create the effect of moving light - just for the fun element.

Finally, as I headed back towards the car, the mist started to roll in and was highlighted by the lights illuminating the abbey, creating great beams of orange that were fanning out into the night sky above Whitby.

Text below - Credit to: English Heritage - The History of Whitby Abbey

The first monastery here was founded in AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. An Anglo-Saxon style 'double monastery' for men and women, its first ruler was the formidable royal princess Abbess Hild. Here, Caedmon the cowherd was miraculously transformed into an inspired poet; here, the future of the English church was decided by the Synod of Whitby in 664; and here the relics of Northumbrian kings and saints were enshrined.

Though many intriguing excavated finds from it are displayed in the visitor centre, nothing survives above ground of this Anglo-Saxon monastery. The imposing ruins belong to the church of the Benedictine abbey refounded on its site by the Normans. Begun in about 1220 in the Early English style of Gothic, the pinnacled east end and north transept still stand high, richly carved with characteristic 'dog's tooth' embellishment. Time, war and nature have left their marks. Parts of the church collapsed during storms, its west front was hit by German naval shelling in 1914, and centuries of wind and rain have added their own etched and pitted decoration.

These supremely romantic ruins enjoy panoramic views over the town and coastline, and literary renown as the backdrop to Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Victorian novel which has made Whitby the 'Goth' capital of Britain. More recently the site has inspired Shadowmancer and other best-selling children's novels by ex-vicar, ex-policeman and exorcist GP Taylor. The ruins share the headland with the Cholmley family mansion, begun after Henry VIII's suppression of the abbey. Its impressive Classical facade of 1672 is fronted by a restoration of the 'hard garden' courtyard rediscovered during English Heritage excavations. The courtyard's centrepiece is a specially-commissioned bronze copy of the famous 'Borghese Gladiator' statue. The Roman marble original of this spectacular life-sized statue, now in the Paris Louvre, dates from the 1st century BC: it was found in 1611 in Italy, and bronze casts were made for King Charles I. Copies graced many great English houses and gardens, including the Cholmleys' Whitby mansion, recalling the family's-eventual-Civil War support for the Royalist cause.

The mansion now houses the highly imaginative and award-winning visitor centre. Displaying fascinating finds from the Anglo-Saxon, medieval and Cholmley periods, this is packed with computer-generated images and entertaining interactives: touch screens allow visitors to question Whitby personalities, from Abbess Hild via a medieval monk and the Civil War Cholmleys to Bram Stoker.

Please note: from the Whitby harbour area, the abbey can only be directly reached on foot via the 199 'abbey steps'. Well-equipped with halting places and benches, these pass the parish church of St Mary, with its delightful box-pewed interior [Not managed by English Heritage]. Alternatively, a well-signposted road leads from the town outskirts to the cliff-top abbey.

 

 

 

 

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