Today we visited the seaside town of Whitby. Our first stop was the impressive Whitby Abbey. We had seen a recent program on the BBC which had included part of the history of the Abbey from the woman’s perspective and so it was a must for us to visit.
The first monastery on the site was founded in AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. It was a monastery for both men and women. The monastery was led by, according to history, the royal princess, the formidable Abbess Hilda. In her time the future direction of Christianity in Britain was decided by King Oswy at a Synod at Whitby. At the time there was two forms distinguished by differing worship traditions, labeled the “Ionan” and “Roman” traditions. The “Ionan” practice was that of the Irish monks who resided in a monastery on the isle of Iona (a tradition within "Celtic Christianity”), whereas the “Roman” tradition kept observances according to the customs of Rome. The kingdom of Northumbria had both forms, the main differences between the two was when Easter was celebrated. After cases presented by both sides the decision was made in favour of the Roman traditions and the rest is history.
The ruins of the abbey seen today is the second abbey on the site which was built in Norman times and continued until it was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The abbey buildings fell into ruins, but it remained a prominent landmark for sailors and helped inspire Bram Stoker's Dracula. The Abbey was further damaged during the World War II by a German battle cruiser.
The Abbey was amazing. Although a ruin you really got the atmosphere and an impression of how it used to be. Its position on a headland overlooking Whitby makes it still a prominent feature of the local landscape. After exploring the ruins with the very informative audio guide we visited the small museum with artefacts from the site located in the Cholmley House, a building with its own history going back to the civil war. Miss Daisy was allowed into the museum but was very unsure about walking on the suspended floor!
After lunch we headed into Whitby. It was very very busy so rather than wander around the narrow streets of the old town we went to the top of the cliffs and walked along the prom. We got great views down into the town and the vast expanse of Whitby Bay sand. It was just glorious in the sunshine.