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Whitby Abbey

   
Address : Abbey Lane
Town/City : Whitby
County : Yorkshire
Country : England
Post code : YO22 4JT
Web Site :  www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/whitby-abbey

People have lived at Whitby Abbey since Roman times and in the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries this was a thriving Anglian community with a famous minster of monks and nuns founded by St Hild. 


Whitby nightThe great Benedictine monastery dominated the headland and the town below from its foundation in the late 11th century until its suppression in 1539. The site and surrounding estates were bought by the Cholmleys. They demolished the monastic buildings but preserved the shell of the church and adapted the former abbot's lodgings as a residence, adding a new wing to it in the 1670s. The Cholmleys moved away in the late 18th century and in the 19th century Whitby became a popular tourist destination and thriving port. The Ministry of Works took over the care of the abbey in the 20th century and in 1984 the ruins were transferred into the care of English Heritage.


MAJOR INVESTMENT FOR WHITBY ABBEY

English Heritage has announced plans to invest almost £1.6 million in improving facilities at Whitby Abbey. The site, which attracts over 150,000 visitors a year, will see improvements to three key areas whilst also benefitting from a newly designed museum and interpretation located at key points around the site.

The proposed works will see improvements to both entrances as well as to the courtyard, visitor centre and the addition of a small coffee shop. The courtyard will be re-landscaped with a line of trees down the centre to frame the approach to the visitor centre, guiding visitors' in. The existing cobbles will be carefully lifted and re-laid. Contemporary seating benches will be added and spaces will be replanted with herbs inspired from medieval times - sage, dill and lavender will give off the scent of a medieval monastic infirmary and encourage visitors to pause and enjoy the views of the imposing ruins. Throughout the open green spaces of the headland, cultural and historical information, which will appeal to all ages, will be strategically placed to tell the alluring story of Whitby Abbey throughout its diverse and fascinating history.

The visitor centre, once a grand banqueting hall and which currently houses the shop and ticket desks, will see the extension of the shop to cover the entire ground floor allowing a better flow between the ticket desk and retail space and avoiding queues at peak times. The Lodge, situated at the north entrance at the top of the 199 steps, and currently being used as an admissions point will, whilst working in partnership with the YHA, become a coffee shop selling tea, coffee, delicious tray-bakes, sandwiches and ice-creams.

The new museum space will provide an opportunity to learn more about rich history of the abbey. The new exhibition draws on the atmosphere of the abbey to create a sense of drama. It will include playful elements of surprise and delight to engage in audiences of all ages; spanning the period from early Bronze Age through to occupation of the Cholmley family. Beautifully lit displays will house rare and internationally significant collection objects.


Ruth Haycock, Interpretation Manager at English Heritage commented: "We want visitors to understand the significance of the site, explored through the prism of the headland - a place of sanctity, spirituality and a great source of inspiration for visual and literary figures throughout history."

The refurbishment has been designed by Mawson Kerr, a practice whose work was recently shortlisted in Channel 4's Grand Designs 'House of the Year' and who designed the tea rooms at both Mount Grace Priory and Birdoswald Roman Fort – two major English Heritage sites in the north.


Interior interpretation work will be undertaken by London based agency Drinkall Dean whose work has recently won them a Heritage Award for Robots: The 500-year Quest to Make Machines human at the Science Museum, London. The agency has also just completed work on the new visitor centre at Lowther Castle in the Lake District as well as Holkham Estate in Norfolk. As well as working on several temporary exhibitions at The National Media Museum in Bradford, current projects include work with The National Trust for Scotland, Science Museum London, London Transport Museum and The Royal Opera House.

Work started in November 2018 and runs until the spring of 2019.

Andrea Selley, Historic Properties Director for the North at English Heritage said: "These are exciting plans for Whitby Abbey. Expanding the shop, adding in a café and installing a new visitor entrance will vastly improve the welcome for our visitors. The new museum and better interpretation on site will allow us to tell the story of one of Yorkshire's most iconic abbeys – an abbey steeped in rich history and which in the past has provided inspiration for many notable visual and literary figures including Tolkien, J.M.W. Turner and Sir Walter Scott. We are also pleased to be working in partnership with the YHA."

Whitby Abbey was recently commended in the Best Event category at the prestigious UK Heritage Awards 2018 for the Illuminated Abbey event held over Halloween.

Whitby J850263

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