WHITBY – the town gets its name from the Old Norse for “white settlement”.
A fascinating town straddling the 2 banks of the River Esk as it meets the North Sea on the North Yorkshire coast. It holds so many memories for me. I grew up on the North Yorkshire Moors not many miles away. I visited many times as a child and, since moving to the south of England many years ago I make a point of re-visiting my memories and the town’s treasures whenever I return to the area.
When I think of WHITBY I think of so many things:
- of its fishing fleet, of the long and proud history of its lifeboats and lifeboat men and women; and of the delicious fish and chips served in Trenchers and the Magpie;
- of Captain Cook sailing in and out of the harbour and learning his seafaring skills on the coasters plying coal along the English coast;
- of the Abbey and its Abbess Hilda, and of thegreat Whitby Synod held there in 664 A.D.;
- of the 7th Century cowherd poet, Caedmon, who, the 8th Century historian, Bede, tells us, learnt to compose one night in a dream. As far as is known, Caedmon is the earliest of English poets;
- of the church of St.Mary on East Cliff with its unique 18th Century box pews;
- of its jet mines, and the crafted intensely black and highly polished jewellery made from this fossilised wood ;
- of alum, essential to the dying processes of the wool trade – medieval England’s primary industry. The production of English alum was for centuries concentrated in and around the town;
- of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941), the pioneer photographer, who has left behind him a unique collection of images of a disappearing time.before industrialisation and mechanisation.
- of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and the myths which have grown up around his (fictional) landfall near the churchyard of St.Mary’s on East Cliff;
- and, of course, of the Dracula cult fostered and nourished by the modern-day Goths who frequent the town at regular intervals – in particular for their twice yearly alternative music festival – WGW – Whitby Goth Weekend.
The town’s fascination for me has led me to photograph it widely and also to create a number of line and wash drawings, some of which I reproduce below . . .
An excellent resource to discover more about this fascinating town can be found at …