After going to Whitby a fair bit, I made it to Whitby Abbey! I’ve walked up the famous 199 steps and by it and past St Mary’s Church many times, but I’ve never actually paid to go inside.
Actually, I’ve now been to Whitby Abbey twice now. The first time was in August 2019 with a friend, and the second time was in April 2023. In this post, there are some photos from both of my visits.
About Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey was founded in 657 AD by St. Hilda as a Christian monastery. It has been through numerous changes over the centuries. Over time, it evolved into a Benedictine abbey. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, Henry VIII confiscated the abbey and its possessions. The abbey was destroyed in 1540 but was later purchased by Sir Richard Cholmley.
This once bustling settlement served as a home for saints, the burial place for royalty, and even the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Abbey has served as a landmark for sailors. Today, the Abbey stands in ruins, a silent testament to its rich and vibrant past. It is owned by English Heritage and has been declared a Grade I Listed building.
The Whitby Abbey Experience
If you’re planning a visit to Whitby Abbey, you won’t be disappointed by its stark beauty and the breathtaking views it offers. Let’s dive into what a typical visit looks like.
Arrival and Entry
Arriving at Whitby Abbey on a busy day, you might find yourself in a short queue. However, don’t fret! The queue moves quickly, and the staff at the welcome desk ensure a smooth entry for all.
Exploring the Grounds
Once you’ve entered the grounds, you can explore the stunning ruins of the Abbey. Take your time exploring the old columns and the accessible paths. The Abbey offers an unrestricted view down to Whitby, its main beach, and the inlet for boats. You might even spot a pirate ship or two!
The Children’s Trail
If you’re visiting with children, don’t miss out on the kid’s trail. Although it might not be mentioned at the entrance, you can find it online.
Abbey House Visitor Centre & Museum
The Abbey House Visitor Centre and Museum is near the ruins of Whitby Abbey. It serves as an extension of the historical site, offering visitors a deeper understanding of the abbey’s history and the surrounding area.
Housed in a 17th-century mansion, you’ll find a new museum that tells the story of the abbey. The museum showcases a wide range of artefacts and exhibits related to the abbey and its history. There are archaeological finds and informative panels that provide insights into the lives of the monks and nuns who once inhabited the abbey.
The exhibits also delve into the impact of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the subsequent history of the site. You can find objects like Anglo-Saxon crosses, medieval manuscripts and even a rare signed copy of Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’.
In addition to the museum, the Abbey House Visitor Centre offers a gift shop where you can buy books, souvenirs, and locally crafted items. The centre also has a new coffee shop where you can relax and enjoy refreshments while taking in the stunning views of Whitby and the coastline.
The Abbey House Visitor Centre and Museum provide a fun and interesting educational experience for both locals and tourists, shedding light on the rich history and cultural significance of Whitby Abbey and its surroundings.
My Visits to Whitby Abbey
The first time I visited Whitby Abbey, it was a lovely sunny day. We got lucky as there was a Dracula show on when we went in, meaning most people were watching that so we had the place to ourselves! What a view. We did start to watch the Dracula show – it was a man storytelling but it was more aimed at children.
The second time I went was with my husband and son. My toddler loved walking around the abbey. There are lots of ramps and hills, which is great for toddlers.
He was not very impressed with the museum section, but it’s not very big so didn’t take us long to get through.
Before planning your visit, here are some essential details to keep in mind:
- Address: Abbey Ln, Whitby YO22 4JT
- Opening Times: Whitby Abbey is open most of the year. For up-to-date opening times, click here.
- Accessibility: The Abbey has accessible paths and facilities.
- Dog Friendliness: Dogs are not allowed.
- Picnic Spots: Yes, you can bring your own picnic blanket.
- Category: Historical attraction, suitable for all ages.
One of the highlights of Whitby Abbey is the Illuminated Abbey event. Held annually, this event drenches the Abbey in vibrant colours, transforming it into a spectacular light show. With live theatre, marshmallow toasting, and abundant food and drink, it’s an occasion not to be missed.
The next Illuminated Abbey event is Saturday 21 October 2023 – 31 October 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get to Whitby Abbey without climbing the steps?
Yes, you can access Whitby Abbey without climbing the steps. The Abbey is accessible through a path that runs from the car park to the visitor centre.
Why is Whitby Abbey so famous?
Whitby Abbey is renowned for its historical significance, stunning architecture, and breathtaking location. It’s also famous as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Where is Dracula’s grave in Whitby?
Contrary to popular belief, Dracula’s grave isn’t in Whitby. The connection between Whitby and Dracula comes from Bram Stoker’s novel, where Dracula arrives in England through the port of Whitby.
Looking for more historical places to visit? Check out this post.
Is it free to park at Whitby Abbey?
Parking at Whitby Abbey is chargeable. The car park is council-run, and parking fees range from £3.30 for two hours to £7.00 for six hours.
Does Whitby Abbey have a cafe?
Whitby Abbey doesn’t have a cafe. However, there are shops selling hot and cold drinks and limited snacks near the exit. Whitby Brewery is next to the Abbey, where you can enjoy local craft beer and pizza.
There is also Abbey House Café in part of the 15th Century Manor House next to Whitby Abbey that is open.
Can you walk around Whitby Abbey at night?
Although the Abbey grounds close in the evening, Whitby Abbey hosts special events like the Illuminated Abbey, where visitors can explore the Abbey at night.
Is Whitby Abbey dog friendly?
Dogs are not allowed in Whitby Abbey.
In conclusion, Whitby Abbey is a fascinating piece of history that offers an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or a casual visitor, a trip to Whitby Abbey is sure to be rewarding.
See also: The best things to do in Whitby.
- 22 Yorkshire Beaches to Visit
- Whitby Marine Discovery Centre And Lobster Hatchery Review
- St Mary’s Church