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A Short History of Whitby Abbey
By:Thom Sanders

One of the many historical sites you can enjoy when visiting the fantastic Whitby area, Yorkshire, is the beautiful ruin of Whitby Abbey.

The ruins are situated on a coastal headland and peek out over the town of Whitby below. The towns connected to the Abbey ruins by a steep set of steps winding up the side of the hill, which is the traditional route, and emerges up on the headland in front of the impressive stone walls.

The Abbey itself has gone through a couple of revisions in its past. It started out being a small parish church built in around 1090 AD. This church was then transformed into the larger Abbey around 1220 AD, most likely due to the increase in the monk population, but the older church walls can still today be seen in places around the site.

When the decision to construct a new abbey on the site was taken in 1220 AD it appears that the monks also decided to markedly improve on the church that existed on the site. The resulting abbey was one of the most ambitious buildings of the time, a beautiful example of early Gothic architecture.

The Abbey over the years became one of the richest in the country up until its height just after 1220 AD but much of this wealth dwindled over the decades following the reconstruction due to extensive construction costs. These constructions included fantastic stained glass windows, one of which depicted William the Conqueror, and beautiful stone carvings showing the history of the area along with religious scenes. Much of the stone work still survives and it's still possible to get a feel of what the Abbey must have been like at its height. Added to this the Abbey would have had a beautifully painted choir and an impressive transept.

The Abbey as we see it today is a shell of its former glory, the impression of its magnificence is still there though, this is mainly because of the neglect the building suffered in the 17th century. The roof of the Abbey was stripped of its lead for money leaving it vulnerable to the elements; eventually leading to the collapse of both the tower and the nave and leaving the Abbey in the condition it can be seen in today.

The site is a great opportunity for anyone staying in one of the many Whitby Hotels in the area to indulge in the history of the area.

This article was written by Thom Sanders on behalf of Raven Hall Hotel, a great place to stay if you are looking for Whitby Hotels and Whitby Accommodation http://www.ravenhall.co.uk/page/hotel.html






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