Bram Stoker spent a great deal of time in Whitby and at the Royal Hotel. It is said that while looking out of from his window at the Royal he found his inspiration for Dracula by watching a large black dog leaping from a ship that had run aground on the foreshore.
We have his room – the foreshore is visible, the wind is howling; there are any number of black dogs straining on reluctant leads in the sideways rain. The staff all have Transylvanian accents; the steaks are a touch too rare. At breakfast we are joined by the undead.
Whitby attracts the Goth community and it is easy to understand why – not just the Dracula connection but that very Victorian, very black material, Whitby jet can be found everywhere among the narrow streets and cobbled alleyways. It is a Hammer Horror film set with perfect backdrops – the steep, steep steps to St Mary’s and the ruined Abbey lording it over the town.
Despite this, it is also a place of romance, light and poetry.
Things Passed Away
In lapis, dun and grey, heave, swell and gale
are stilled; the whispering mast and shingle-roar
silenced. Small boats of larch and oak and prayer
take on the storm with slender oars and straining sail.
Umber and ochre beget beast and bale,
the harvest art, the scythe, the brooding moor,
and, as lowering clouds advance upon the shore,
the lover waits, the mother saves the veil.
But soon, beyond these whelming cobalt seas,
young men will reel, mistaking smoke for fret
and blasted shells for raining ore or jet,
seeking dolphins as they to darkness yield.
Then, painting dark on dark when life has ceased,
charred bones become ivory-black and stain the field.
Romeo, Romeo, I’m your Juliet
I’m the pot of gold that you haven’t found yet
And I’m here, right here
What a co-incidence: just now I’m reading the first of Peter Tremayne’s “Sister Fidelma” novels, which takes place in Whitby Abbey.
That certainly is a coincidence, Pit. Sadly, the Abbey was closed for the winter while they were renovating the visitor centre – we only found this out after the 200 step climb 😦 Worth it though – St Mary’s alone is worth the effort.
When I was in Whitby in the 1990s for an afternoon, accompanying my students on an exchange programme, we unfortunately didn’t have time enough to visit the abbey.
The number of times I’ve tottered up those steps, Robin! 🙂 🙂 Love your pier shot and that fabulous light.
Thanks Jo – I genuinely had you in mind climbing those steps – I remember your post and me not knowing Whitby well enough to be aware of St Mary’s – isn’t it wonderful inside with the boxed pews and pillars, almost nautical. Sadly the Abbey was shut while they are renovating the visitor centre. Something self-defeating about that.
Yes, St. Mary’s is beautiful, Robin. 🙂 🙂 My favourite time is when they have the collection of Christmas trees.
A great insight into Whitby, a place we have never been to, and so many people give it great reports. Must try and go.
I recommend it – I like English resorts out of season although there were some disadvantages – the NYMR wasn’t running, the Abbey was closed and not all 20+ Fish and Chip shops were open 🙂 Still plenty to see and do though.
Seems like a place of many atmospheres. Love the Dracula connection.
Right up your street, Julie – the place if not the hotel 🙂