At the Top of the Cliff

Exploring England #35

High above the town of Whitby a Benedictine abbey stands in ruins, another victim of King Henry VIII’s 16th century dissolution of the monasteries. Perched on East Cliff, Whitby Abbey overlooks the North Sea and the hills and dales of North Yorkshire.

A church has stood on the site since 657 AD; these ruins date from the 13th century. After the dissolution, the monastic buildings and the surrounding land became the property of the Cholmley family. The Abbot’s house was extended in the 17th and 18th centuries and is now the visitor centre and museum.

Where monks once lived a life of devotion and prayer today’s visitors stand in awe, gazing upwards at what remains of the ornate stonework. A light breeze whispering through the cloisters echoes songs of worship from the past.

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51 thoughts on “At the Top of the Cliff

  1. Beautiful images and it looks like you got lucky with the British weather! I have a weird obsession with Henry VIII so really enjoyed the reference to the dissolution of the monasteries.

  2. It looks a lot warmer in these images than the day I was last there. (late November 2008) even though we had similar blue skies. The location is fabulous as are your images.

  3. I can hear the distant ringing of the bell that once must have permeated this land originating from this abbey. I associate monks and abbeys with the making of cider or beer, having grown up in France. I wonder if the monks that inhabited this abbey engaged in similar activities? Beautiful photos of the cloisters. One can really feel the wind going through it.

    Ben

    • Hi Ben. I didn’t read anything about beer or cider production but I expect that happened here. There was a great deal of land connected to the abbey so they probably produced all their food. The cloisters were especially beautiful.

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