The History of Whitby Abbey

The History of Whitby Abbey

The imposing Abbey remains sit on the headland overlooking Whitby town and sea. With its long history and prominent location carefully selected by the Anglo-Saxons, Whitby later developed into a successful medieval monastery.

The first monastery was founded by King Oswy of Northumbria. He made a vow to found 12 monasteries and if he defeated Penda, King of Mercia, he was to give his baby daughter, Elfled, to religious life. He did defeat Penda at the Battle of Winwaed in 655, and two years later Hilda, Abbess of Hartlepool, took the young princess Elfled and established a monastery at Whitby for both men and women.

This monastery soon achieved a high reputation and was chosen as the venue for the Synod of Whitby in 664. This was convened by King Oswy to reconcile Celtic and Roman differences and to determine the future direction of the English Church. It was at the synod that the dates for Easter were decided. The monastery was later destroyed by the Danes in 867 and was re-established in 1078 by Aelflaed, one of William the Conqueror’s knights who became a monk.

The first stone buildings went up in the late 11th/early 12th-century. A programme of rebuilding began in the early 13th-century, starting with the east – the most important end – followed by the north and south transepts, the central tower and, 20 years later, three bays of the nave. By then the cost of the work had driven the abbey into debt. The remainder of the nave was not completed until the 14th-century, and this can be seen by the different style of windows. The great west window was inserted in the 15th-century and this is a different style again.
In the 12th-century the number of monks reached to just over 40, but after the Black Death hit Whitby in 1349, there were only about 20 left. The abbey was surrendered to the King’s Commissioners on 14 December 1539, when there were 22 monks and domestic staff in residence.

In 1540 the Abbey site was leased to Richard Cholmley. He bought it outright in 1555 and his family held it until the end of the 18th-century. Their home was rebuilt several times, using stones from the domestic buildings of the Abbey. A fine new wing, the so-called Banqueting House, was added in the 1670s as a major modernisation of the house. Its fine, symmetrical façade still stands. The ruins of the church were probably left because they served as a landmark for sailors.


Whilst staying in Whitby, Bram Stoker would have heard all about the Russian from Narva called DmitryThis ran aground on Tate Hill Sands below East Cliff, carrying a cargo of silver sand. This became the Demeter from Varna that carries Dracula to Whitby with a cargo of silver sand and boxes of earth.

So, although Stoker was to spend six more years on his novel before it was published, the name of his villain and some of the novel’s most dramatic scenes were inspired by his holiday in Whitby. The innocent tourists, the picturesque harbour, the Abbey ruins, the windswept churchyard and the salty tales he heard from Whitby seafarers all became ingredients in the novel. 

In 1897 Dracula was published. It had a poor start as a play calledThe Undead', in which Stoker hoped Henry Irving would take the lead role. Unfortunately after a test performance, Irving said he never wanted to see it again. For the character of Dracula, Stoker retained Irving’s aristocratic bearing and histrionic acting style, but he redrafted the play as a novel told in the form of letters, diaries, newspaper cuttings and entries in the ship’s log of the Demeter.

The log charts the gradual disappearance of the entire crew during the journey to Whitby, until only the captain is left, tied to the wheel, as the ship runs aground below East Cliff on 8 August – the date that marked Stoker’s discovery of the name ‘Dracula’ in Whitby library. A ‘large dog’ bounds from the wreck and runs up the 199 steps to the church, and from this moment, things begin to go horribly wrong. Dracula has arrived …

Rumour has it that Dracula's grave can be found in the graveyard of St Mary's Church at the top of the 199 steps.

The 199 Steps

One of the most famous landmarks in Whitby are the 199 steps that lead up to St Mary’s church, also known as the ‘Church Steps’. The reasons for walking up the steps have differed over the years, but now they are used to capture one of the most beautiful views of Whitby you can achieve.

The first record of the steps was in 1340, some historians believe that St Hilda would have used the steps to test the faith of her followers (climbing up the steps would prove your faith, a simple task these days).

The steps were originally made of wood and stood that way for hundreds of years until 1774 when the steps were replaced with Sneaton Stone. There has been many years of dispute as to how many steps there are, some believe there are 198, and others believe 200 (depending on how you count the steps). In 1761 John Wesley counted 191, and in 1800 guide books of Whitby 194 were counted. When you visit you will have to count them just to make up your own mind.


Throughout the year there are several different events going on at the Abbey to keep the whole family entertained. Whether you like Dracula, Vikings or just want to see the Abbey Illuminations there is something to please everyone, and being just a short walk away from us here at Whitby Holiday Park makes us the perfect holiday destination.

We have Static Holiday Homes for hire in Platinum, Gold and Pet Friendly categories and they sleep anything up to 8 people. We also have an access plus caravan which sleeps up to 6 people and has a ramped decking access and a walk in shower.

As well as our static caravans we also have our touring field with 119 grass pitches for tourers / motorhomes and campervans, and 4 separate hard standing pitches for motorhomes and campervans.

We are already taking bookings for 2018 so if this is something you have been thinking about then pick up the phone and give us a ring today on 01947 602664.

Alternatively you can contact us by via of the following:

Twitter: @whitbyholpark 

We'd love to hear from you!



Captain Cook

Captain Cook

Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby is hosting 2 exhibitions in 2018 entitled Whitby in the time of cook, the Making of a great seaman’.
The dates & times for the exhibitions are:

Saturday 10th February – Friday 23rd March 2018 - 11am to 3pm

Saturday 24th March – Sunday 4th November 2018 – 9.45am to 5pm

This is due to 2018 being the 250th anniversary of Captain Cooks first voyage to the Pacific in 1768.

*It will be about his time in Whitby after he weighed anchor at Plymouth

*What did he take from the town

*It will highlight the historical features of the town and how the prosperity of the town has grown

*And the unique points which made Whitby one of the major ship-building centres in Britain and how Whitby became the main place for training young men for sea

Whitbys Captain Cook Museum has won many awards for being the best small visitor attraction, these include:

The Tourism Award - Discover Yorkshire Coast – 2005
The White Rose Award -Yorkshire Tourist Board – 2005 & 2012
The Gold Award- Visit England’s Award for Excellence’ – 2013

Standard museum entry prices apply. No extra charge for exhibition.

Adult: £5.90
Child: £3.50
Concession: £5.40
Family: £14.50

If you are interested in attending the exhibition on any of the dates why not book a stay with us here at Whitby Holiday Park. We are only a short walk into the town.
Our season starts 1st March 2018 and we welcome new and old customers to come and visit the park.

Whitby is a beautiful historic town and all visitors young and old fall in love with the quaint streets and fantastic views over the sea.

   It is a small town brimming with folklore and legends.




Saltwick Bay!!

Saltwick Bay

Saltwick Bay
Saltwick Bay is a north-east facing bay approximately one mile (1.6 km) to the east of Whitby, and can be accessed directly from Whitby Holiday Park. The bay contains the Saltwick Nab alum quarries, listed under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The bay is part of the Saltwick Formation and known for its collections of fossils. The SS Rohilla hospital ship sank in the bay in 1914, and the fishing trawler Admiral Von Tromp was shipwrecked there in 1976. 


Quarrying led to the discovery of fossils, and the bay is now known as being a location for fossils from the Lower Jurassic period. Fossils commonly found at Saltwick Bay include the Dactylioceras and Hildoceras, as well as fossilised plant remains. Cuspiteuthis tubularis fossils can be found near the Black Nab, an island in the bay.Alum was quarried at Saltwick Bay, with the first recorded quarrying being by Sir Hugh Chomley, who lived at Whitby Abbey, in the 17th century. The alum quarries were built on promontories and were 180m (590 ft) in length and 35m (115 ft) in depth. The quarries eventually closed in 1791. There is also evidence of a medieval harbour at Saltwick Bay, and in the 18th century, Saltwick Bay and Whitby Harbour had a one-mile (1.6 km) triangular shale reef.

In around 1764 a horse skeleton was found about 30 yards (27 m) underground in the alum mines at Saltwick Bay, and in 1824 an almost complete skeleton of the extinct teleosaurid Steneosaurus bollensis was discovered at the bay. The skeleton is now displayed at the Whitby Museum which you can find at Pannett Park. Other skeletons found at Saltwick Bay have included the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur.

On the sands of Saltwick Bay stand boats that have been through the worst nightmare of any captain, shipwrecks.

  • In 1914, the hospital ship SS Rohilla sank near Saltwick Nab in the bay; 146 of the 229 on board, including Captain Neilson and all the nurses, as well as Titanic survivor Mary Kezia Roberts, survived. The conditions made rescue extremely difficult, but lifeboats from Whitby, Upgang (near Whitby), Redcar, Tynemouth and Scarborough helped with the rescue attempts. 

  • Walking alongside the small beach that is famed for its fossils, if you bear right on the beach (facing the sea), after clambering the rocks you will come across the remains of the Von Tromp. 

Rewind to October 30th 1976, and take yourself to Scarborough Harbour. The original course was set at Barnacle Bay (40 miles NNE of Scarborough), but the trawler never got to its destination.Instead, Taal was awoken by bumps and felt as though the boat was heeling. A skipper on the crew asked John what he was doing but Addison looked back to the skipper in silence. Frankie tried to save the boat but it was too late, they were heading straight on Black Nabb, on Saltwick Bay. Frankie Taal went to check on his trustworthy seaman John Addison, a man who was more than experienced when it came to steering a boat. Taal had a coffee, and knowing the boat was in good hands he went to sleep, safe in the knowledge that he would be awoken when the crew arrived at their destination. But that didn’t happen…
All attempts were made to investigate what happened to the boat, but it was a mystery that would never be solved. The boat was found 90 degrees off course with no reason as to why. The weather was reported as being fine, the crewmen were sober, and, according to a senior nautical surveyor, if the boat was left to its own devices it would not have gone off course… it appeared the boat had purposely been driven into the rocks.
The only man that could shed light on the horrific and mysterious incident, John Addison, died during the sinking.
The wreck of the Von Tromp can still be seen today at low tide in Saltwick Bay. 

Saltwick Nab
Alum is a chemical used principally in the textile industry for fixing dyes. It is not found in a natural state in Britain but can be manufactured from some types of shale. During the medieval period in Britain alum was mostly imported from Italy. Domestic production began in the north of England in the early 17th century. The industry flourished in the north for 200 years until the mid-19th century when it was overtaken by new techniques using shale from coal mining, whilst after 1880 aluminium sulphate replaced alum for most industrial purposes. The last English aluminium works (at Goole) closed in 1950. Approximately 50 alum sites have been identified in England. Most were along the Cleveland and Yorkshire coast. Other early sites are known on the south coast, particularly in Dorset and Hampshire.

Alum works comprise two main monument types: the quarry where extraction and initial processing took place, and the alum house where final processing took place. Alum shale was extracted from quarries sited on steep inland hillsides or coastal cliffs. Initial processing on the quarry floor consisted of calcination by burning shale in clamps, and the production in settling pits of alum liquor. The liquor was transported to processing works in sealed casks or through wooden channels known as liquor troughs. Larger quarries possessed inclines and haulage gear and sometimes harbour facilities. Evidence of secondary industries such as Epsom salts and iron silicates production is also preserved at alum works. 

The alum site at Saltwick Nab preserves important evidence of the quarrying and processing activities. In addition to the 19th century workings, remains of the early industry and its development will be preserved. The site offers important scope for the study of the development of the alum industry.

The monument includes remains of the alum quarries and associated features at the western end of Saltwick Nab, 2 km east of Whitby. As well as the quarries, the monument also includes steeping pits and cisterns used for initial processing and a slip way lying on the foreshore which was part of the harbour facilities. The monument is divided into two separate areas, one including both the quarry face and floor and the other including the slip way. 

Alum was first quarried at the west end of Saltwick Bay in 1649, and this continued intermittently until operations ceased in 1791. The alum was processed at an alum house which was erected in 1770 to the east of the monument; previous to this the alum was shipped to South Shields for processing. The remains of this alum house have been destroyed by coastal erosion. 


Family Holidays

Family Holidays

As we approach the festive season, we are all excited about the upcoming festivities and are looking forward to spending time with our families - I know I am.

Family time is important to everybody, it is important to grab every opportunity we can to spend time with our families, such as at birthdays, weddings, Christmas and holidays:

Whitby Holiday Park is an ideal location for a well deserved family holiday, we are on the East Cliff at Saltwick Bay, near Whitby Abbey. Our park is a short walk into the beautiful historic town of Whitby.
You can book in with us between 1st March and 31st October. 
We have many static vans available for hire, (the minimum booking in our static vans is 3 days) or if you have your own touring vehicle you can stay on our touring field, all pitches have electric hook up which is included in the price.

We have stunning views over the sea, across the bay and towards the Abbey ruins.

Our prices vary over the year, full details of our prices can be found on our website -

Onsite we have a mini-market, cafe, bar, cinema, small amusements, launderette, pot-wash facilities, male & female shower/toilet facilities, seperate access+ shower/toilet facilities and a newly refurbished play park.

We also have holiday homes for sale: are you looking for a permanent weekend retreat? Then look no further than Whitby Holiday Park.

Please contact the office on 01947 602664 to book your stay with us, or alternatively email your enquiries to 

All the staff at Whitby Holiday Park would like to wish you all a

We are looking forward to seeing you all next year



the Importance of a well balanced diet teamed with adequate exercise

The Importance of a well balanced diet teamed with adequate exercise.

At Whitby Holiday Park we understand how important it is to have a well-balanced, healthy diet and a regular exercise plan as part of your daily routine. We have many coastal walks and cycle hire routes in the vicinity of our park.

The onsite café has many healthy options for you to enjoy.

We need a healthy diet and exercise plan in our daily lives as it is important and vital for our good health and wellbeing.
Food provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals we need to live, grow and function properly.
To ensure we get the right amounts of nutrients for good health, we need a wide variety of different foods.
One of the great cultural pleasures of life is enjoying a healthy diet, an unhealthy diet increases the risk of many diet-related diseases.

Website links for information on coastal walks and cycle routes:

The key to a healthy balanced diet is to:
  • Eat the right amount of calories for how active you are, you should be balancing the energy you consume with the energy you use.
  • Do not eat or drink too much, as you will put on weight.
  • Do consume the correct amounts of food that contain the correct nutrients and not too many calories and you will lose weight. 
  • Eat a wide range of foods to ensure that you're getting a balanced diet you need to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs.
It is recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules).
Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).
Most adults are eating more calories than they need, they should eat fewer calories to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals are starchy carbohydrates and should make up just over one third of the food you eat.
It is better for you to choose wholegrain varieties of pasta rice and bread, also eat potatoes with their skins on as they all contain more fibre and help you to feel full longer.
It is recommended we eat at least 1 starchy food with each main meal, people are under the impression that starchy foods are fattening, but the carbohydrate gram for gram contains half the calories of fat.
You must keep an eye on the fats you are adding during cooking and the fats you add to your prepared food as this is what increases your calorie consumption e.g. oil/fat on chips, butter/margarine on bread and creamy cooking sauces on pasta.

Eat lots of fruit and veg:
We are advised to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg every day, this seems impossible but it is easier than you think, why not chop a banana over your breakfast, have a piece of fruit for your mid-morning snack.
You can only ever count unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies as a maximum of 1 portion of your 5 a day, for example, if you have 2 glasses of fruit juice and a smoothie in 1 day, that will still count as 1 portion

Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish:
Fish contains many vitamins and minerals and is a good source of protein, we should aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, one of these being an oily fish as oily fish contains omega-3 fats, which may help to prevent heart disease.

Oily fish include: Salmon, Mackerel, Trout, Herring, Fresh Tuna, Sardines and Pilchards.
Non-oily fish include: Haddock, Plaice, Coley, Cod, Canned Tuna, Skate and Hake.

If you eat fish regularly you should eat a wide variety from fresh, frozen and canned but do remember that canned and smoked fish can be high in salt.

Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
Although we do need to have some fat in our diet it is important to be aware of the amount and type of fat we are eating. The 2 main types of fat are saturated and unsaturated fats, if you consume too much saturated fat it will increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which will increase the risk of you developing heart disease.
It is recommended that the average man should have no more than 30g of saturated fat per day and the average woman no more than 20g, children should have a lot less than adults.

Foods containing saturated fats include: Hard Cheese, Cakes, Biscuits, Sausages, Cream, Butter, Lard and Pies.
Foods containing unsaturated fats include: Vegetable oils, oily fish and avocados.
You should try to cut down your saturated fat intake, try to choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead.
The healthier choice is to use small amounts of vegetable oil or reduced-fat spread instead of butter, lard or ghee. Choose lean cuts of meat and cut off any visible fat

Sugar in our diet:
If you often consume foods and drinks that are high in sugar you will have increased risk of obesity and tooth decay.
Sugary foods, drinks and alcoholic are often high in energy, these are measured in kilojoules or calories, and can contribute to weight gain if eaten too often, they can also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals. Most packaged foods and drinks do contain shockingly high amounts of free sugars, these are sugars that are added to foods and drinks or are found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Foods with added sugars include: Sugary Fizzy Drinks, Alcoholic Drinks, Sugary Breakfast Cereals, Cakes, Biscuits and Pastries.

The above sugars are the kind of sugars we all should be cutting down on, rather than natural sugars that are found in fruit, milk, honey etc.
Always use the food labels to check how much sugars the product contains. If there are more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g this means the food is high in sugar, if the foods are 5g or less this means the food is low in sugar

Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
Too much salt in your diet can lead high blood pressure, if you do develop high blood pressure you are more likely to develop heart disease or even have a stroke.
It is possible you could still be eating too much salt even if you don’t add any extra to your food. The food we buy already has salt content and can add up to at 3 quarters of the recommended daily allowance.
Use the food labels to guide you in your daily salt intake and try to cut down the amounts you consume. If there are more than 1.5g of salt per 100g this means the food is high in salt. Adults and children over 11 should not eat a lot of salt, it is recommended no more than 65g per day and young children should have even less.

Don't skip breakfast:
Some people think if they skip breakfast they will lose weight, this is wrong. Research has shown that people who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight.
It has also been shown that children who eat breakfast have increased concentration throughout the morning and it does have a positive effect on their mental performance.
A healthy breakfast provides some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health and is an important factor of a balanced diet. Wholegrain or low-sugar cereal topped with fruit makes a tasty and nutritious breakfast.

Don't get thirsty:
As part of a healthy diet we also need to drink plenty of fluids, it is recommended we drink 6-8 glasses every day, this is in addition to the fluids we get in the foods we eat.
We should try not to consume too many sugary drinks (soft and fizzy) as these are high in added sugars and calories, they are also
We should try not to consume too many sugary drinks (soft and fizzy) as these are high in added sugars and calories, they are also bad for our teeth. Unsweetened fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies are high in free sugar and the combined total amount recommended for daily consumption is no more than 150ml.
When we are exercising and when the weather is warm we will need more fluids so we do not risk becoming dehydrated.

Be a healthy weight:
If you are overweight or obese it can lead to serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. It is also important not to be underweight as this can also lead to health issues.
It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet as this is essential to maintaining a healthy weight to ensure you have a good overall health, if you are wanting to lose weight, you should try to consume at least 500 calories less of your RDA (recommended daily amount), you need to cut down on foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

The importance of physical activity:
To promote weight loss and maintain a healthy weight it is as important to partake in regular daily exercise as it is to follow a healthy diet.
You do not need to spend hours in the gym, it is possible to fit activity into your daily life, E.G get off the bus 1 stop early, go for regular short walks, don’t use lifts if you only have a couple of flights of stairs to ascend.
Being physically active reduces the risk of many diet-related diseases.

Always remember after you have done any form of physical exercise it is not an excuse to reward yourself as this will contradict the exercise.

If you are hungry choose foods that are filling but low in calories and sugar.