From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Whitby Abbey

North Yorkshire
54° 29′ 20.4″ N, 0° 36′ 28.8″ W

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Whitby Abbey is a Benedictine abbey located on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire. It is a Grade I Listed building in the care of English Heritage and the museum is housed in Cholmley House. The ruins are said to have provided inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The abbey was founded in 657 by Oswy, King of Northumbria appointing Lady Hilda, niece of Edwin the first christain king of Northumbria, as Abbess.

The Danes destroyed the abbey in many raids between 867 and 870 while under the rule of Ingwar and Ubba. It was rebuilt 200 years later when the ruins were given to William de Percy as a reward by William the Conqueror. He then gave the ruined abbey to Reinfrid, a soldier serving under William who had become a monk, his goal was to rebuild the abbey. He was given two carucates of land to help start the new monastery. (A carucate was based on the area a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season). Serlo de Percy, the founder's brother, joined Reinfrid at the new monastery which followed the Benedictine order. Reinfrid ruled for many years until he was accidentally killed. He was buried at St. Peter's at Hackness. He was succeeded by Serlo de Percy.

The abbey flourished until 1540. It fell victim to Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was stone mined by the towns folk and became a ruin.

During World War I the 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 as part of the campaign. The Abbey sustained considerable damage during the attack, which lasted ten minutes.