Without doubt Whitby Abbey occupies the most dramatic location of all of Yorkshire`s many fine Abbeys. Most are tucked away in gentle pastoral landscapes, not so the Abbey at Whitby.
St Hilda founded the original Abbey in 657AD, one of Yorkshires earliest religious foundations.
Virtually nothing remains of the early Abbey structure. What we see today are the ruins of the magnificent building that was started in the 1220`s by Abbot Roger and progressed throughout most of that century.
Its lands and power were considerable but finally succumbed to destruction along with the other Abbeys during the dissolution of the monastaries. It took a scant two years and by 1540 all the great Abbeys were in ruins.
The ruins of Whitby Abbey still towered over the small fishing town of Whitby, indeed its main tower only fell in the 1830`s, thought to be caused by a lightning strike.
Shells from a German cruiser raid down the North East coast in World War I added further damage and I guess many Whitby area houses benefited from beautifully cut stone taken from the ruins over the years.
This romantic study by John Freeman shows the iconic image of the Abbey under a moonlit sky with the pantile roofs of the town nestling in the valley below.