Whitby Abbey & Dracula (plus more dog pics!)


The headland of Whitby is home to some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in England. The imposing clifftops have attracted visitors and artists alike for centuries, with something about its majestic presence always drawing people in.

Its beauty is a dangerous one, though, as high winds continually belt the rocky shores. It has no natural water source and erosion is a major risk, with much of the area already having fallen into the treacherous waters of the North Sea. Despite this, its high vantage points make the area easily defendable as the towering cliffs afford incredible views for miles in all directions, thus making Whitby a naturally strong position of power.

Most recognizable in Whitby is the Abbey proudly sitting above the town. Despite falling to ruin, the skeleton of the imposing Abbey high atop the cliffs is a familiar and beloved local landmark. It also served a lifesaving purpose throughout its history: sailors used to navigate by the sight of the Abbey when traversing the often volatile waters of the North Sea.

A Bit of History

The beautiful Gothic abbey has its beginnings in the 7th century when a monastery for both men and woman was founded on its site. It soon became one of the most important centers for religion within the Anglo-Saxon realm and it was at Whitby that it was decided to follow the Roman date for Easter, forever altering the direction of religion within England.

In the 9th centry, the monastery was abandoned due to increasing Viking raids, but by 1078 monks once again returned to reopen the church. It continued to be prosperous and well known until 1539 when it was abandoned after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in England. Despite falling to ruin, much of the Abbey still stands today and makes it easy to imagine its true grandeur during its heyday.

Even as a shell, the ruins of the Abbey are an impressive sight.
All that is left of some of the columns.
A spectacular view toward the Abbey.

What does the Abbey have to do with Dracula?

In July 1890, author Bram Stoker arrived at Whitby for a seaside holiday. At the time, he was working on a new story set in Austria about a character named Count Wampyr. He spent his mornings exploring the surrounding area, taken in by its sweeping beauty. Gothic literature was at its peak during this time and Whitby made for a perfect setting, what with its staggering coastline, the towering ruins of the Abbey, and the bats swooping around the nearby church.

Soon after, his most famous book Dracula would be written, with much of its pivotal scenes taking place in Whitby. The first time our vampire sets foot on England during this tale, its upon the rocky shores of Whitby. After his ship crashed upon the rocks, Dracula disguised himself as a big black dog and leapt up the 199 steps to the Abbey. You can still reach the abbey by climbing those steps today, right alongside other huffing and puffing tourists.

View of Whitby from the top of the 199 steps (that I did in fact climb).


I’ve been to Whitby before, but not to the Abbey itself despite wanting to visit for years. It was definitely worth the wait because something pretty special was going on this past weekend: a strolling performance of Dracula among its ruins.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with a “strolling performance,” but I was so, so pleasantly surprised. A trio of actors acted out the major parts of the book while walking around the Abbey grounds, the captive audience following them. It was a really unique idea for a performance and it was awesome seeing the scenes acted out in different parts of the Abbey of the impressive ruins.

The day was sunny and warm, but there was definitely a very strong wind. Also, a few times we all had to go running for cover under the arches when we were pelted with brief periods of hail and rain. Luckily, these spells never lasted long, but the ever present dark clouds in the distance added an additional ominous air to the play.

Yesterday’s performance was the last of the season, but I heard someone say they’ll be doing it on the weekends during its upcoming annual Illuminated Abbey event, which is another thing I’ve always wanted to see at Whitby. Alas, we’ll be away during this year’s run, but maybe next year!

Mina and Jonathan Harker.
Count Dracula menacing the unsuspecting Jonathan.
Dracula meeting his doom.

Um… You Promised Dog Pictures

No weekend exploration would be complete without our little furball, Zorro. We not only brought him along to see Dracula, but we even made sure he was dressed the part. Without any further ado, I present to you dear readers: Count Zorro, the batdog of Whitby!


He’s so regal in his humiliation.
Look at that face!

Man, is my dog a good sport. Either that or he’s slowly plotting against us and will strike when we least expect it. It’s a toss up, really.

Have any of you been to Whitby? Do you share a love of all things Dracula, too? Let me know in the comments below!

10 thoughts on “Whitby Abbey & Dracula (plus more dog pics!)”

    1. It was pretty spectacular. The views were amazing too and the black clouds added such an eerie, perfect air to the whole experience. Although I bet it’s even more amazing in perfect weather!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooo enjoy! It’s a wonderful place. If you get a chance, there’s a waterfall cafe there that I’ve always wanted to go to that looks gorgeous. It gets great reviews, so if you do go let me know how it is!

      Liked by 1 person

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