13th January 2017
When January rolls around, the Christmas decorations come down and there aren’t any festivities distracting us from the fact it’s freezing outside, it can all feel slightly deflating. This feelings led us to pick up a ‘Yorkshire Life’ magazine this January, to find some fun things to do this year!
Inside there’s a huge feature about Whitby; our favourite sea side town near us, which led to our realisation that we look some great photos which were never shared on our blog, taken September 2016.
You might have heard of Whitby for a number of reasons; it’s famous for it’s Jet, fishing, Dracula, Captain Cook, Whitby Abbey.. and of course- fish & chips!
Our William Morris Golden Lily bag was perfect for a day at the sea side; carrying our shoes as we walked on the beach, a flask of hot tea for when it got just that bit chilly, and the umbrella we carried around all day- just incase!
Bram Stoker went to Whitby late July 1890. As the business manager of Henry Irving, Stoker had just been around Scotland on a theatrical tour, before having some time in Whitby alone, before his wife and child arrived. Writing his third novel, his story was set in Austria- the central character being named Count Wampyr. Gothic literature of the time, as you may well know, was set in foreign lands which feature grand castles, convents and caves. The setting of Whitby then, made for a perfect setting at home; Jet stone has long been associated with Whitby, and has a huge tie to mourning jewellery, the abbey ruins at the top of a cliff and bats swooping over the eerie cliffs, surrounded by a wild landscape made it a huge inspiration to Stoker.
The Abbey ruins stand proudly upon a cliff. The Abbey was once a great Benedictine monastery, found in the 11th Century. Below this, at the top of 199 steps on the East Cliff, you can find the ancient parish church of St Mary; which when visiting, Stoker would have visited on his exploration of Whitby. Many graves here are sea weathered, some are empty; which the seaside town have to mark the deaths of those lost to sea whilst on voyages. One of these graves was the inspiration for Dracula’s first victim- ‘Swales,’ as Stoker used some of the descriptions and names on the graves for his literature. The name ‘Dracula’ came from a book published in 1820, which was about William Wilkinson, which gave a translation of ‘Dracula’ which in the Wallachian language means ‘Devil.’
According to ‘English Heritage,’ “Although Stoker was to spend six more years on his novel before it was published, researching the landscapes and customs of Transylvania, the name of his villain and some of the novel’s most dramatic scenes were inspired by his holiday in Whitby. The innocent tourists, the picturesque harbour, the abbey ruins, the windswept churchyard and the salty tales he heard from Whitby seafarers all became ingredients in the novel.”
Captain James Cook is also a well known figure in Whitby; born around 30 miles from Whitby in Marton. He was an adventurer, a navigator in the Royal Navy, he’s best remembered as an explorer and famous for reaching the south-east cost of the Australian continent on 19th April 1770. In doing so, he became the first recorded European to have encountered the Australian Eastern coastline.
Whitby for many, whilst being a place full of history and remains to be a town full of gothic architecture, is a place full of happy memories of trips to the seaside as children. For this reason, we love it; days on the beach, then spooky ghost stories with the abbey as a setting. We also love the fish and chips here; frequently winning awards. With Botham’s of Whitby there too, it’d be rude to not call in for an afternoon tea!
Looking at the highlights for 2017 in the magazine, it’s easy to choose multiple reasons to visit Whitby this year, which is no longer just a place to visit in summer! From Steampunk weekends to the Whitby Regatta there’s something for everyone! Let’s not forget Whitby’s famous Goth weekends which occur twice per year, which has become one of the most popular weekends of it’s kind in Europe. Even if you’re not dressing for the occasion; it’s a fun event to see everyone’s outfits and see the see the events that are happening throughout the town- especially for the Halloween weekend which with the spooky setting and Dracula’s on every corner; is probably not for the easily scared!
We’d agree with the Yorkshire Life magazine, “Whitby has always been, and always will be one of England’s most loved seaside towns.”