Founded AD 657
What a spectacular setting has Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire. Perched high on the cliff above the little fishing town from which it takes its named, the great eastern abbey front dominates the skyline. This is a place to stand on windswept evenings as the storm clouds begin to circle above your head.
St. Hilda appears to have liked such dramatic locations for she moved here from the Hartlepool Peninsula, forty miles to the north. A highly respected Abbess in 7th century Northumbria, she played host to the great Synod of Whitby here in AD 664. The remains of the little cells of her double monastery, left ruinous by the Vikings, were excavated in 1920s, but are now covered over.
The present abbey ruins almost entirely date from the 1220s, after the abbey had been refounded by Benedictine monks from Evesham. They encompass only the abbey church, with a few excavated foundations alongside. Huge strong walls and elegant arcading still form the essentials of the eastern end and north transept. Who needs more than this artist's dream?
The site is run by English Heritage. There is an entry fee, though Free admission to members.
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