Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

Categories: Europe | History

If Dracula had decided to emigrate from his native Transylvania to Albion, he would have chosen Whitby Abbey as his residence. Mystics believe that the ruins of this ancient monastery are the most eerie place in the UK. Everyone who has been here will surely agree with this.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

Whitby Abbey is located in the vicinity of the town of the same name, in the county of Yorkshire. The monastery was built in the VII century, or rather in 657 as a monastery for monks of both sexes. Later, when monasteries began to be divided into male and female monasteries, Whitby became an all-male monastery.

The sunset over North Yorkshire is best viewed through the Gothic windows of the monastery

The first abbess of the monastery was Abbess Hilda, who was later canonized. This woman had the royal blood of the rulers of Northumbria and East Anglia, but she chose a different path for herself, heading a remote monastery on the shores of the North Sea.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

During the day, the ruins of the abbey do not inspire horror, although one still does not want to stay here alone

In North Yorkshire, Hilda is associated with many different legends. One of them says that the nun saved the locals from the invasion of poisonous snakes, turning them into stone. As proof of this, tourists are shown fossils of a spiral shape, which in fact vaguely resemble curled reptiles.

The secret of the stone snakes, which are depicted at the feet of St. Hilda, will be solved today by any schoolboy

The monastery flourished for two centuries, and in 867 was sacked and destroyed by the Vikings. The Scandinavian guests did not stand on ceremony with the Christians and filled the courtyards and corridors of the abbey with the blood of the monks. After that, the monastery remained in ruins for another two centuries, until it was noticed by one of the companions of King William the Conqueror named Reinfried. The knight completely restored the buildings of the abbey and even expanded them somewhat. In the middle of the XI century, services began to be held again under the arches of Whitby Cathedral, and monks and novices settled in the cells.

The ancient abbey of Whitsby does not stand on the outskirts, as you might think, looking at many photos

Until the sixteenth century, Whitby Abbey had not experienced major upheavals and life in it flowed on as usual. The monks worked in the fields, grazed cattle, fished in the North Sea, and then found peace in the churchyard near the walls of the monastery. The idyll was broken by King Henry VIII, who entered into a tough confrontation with the Pope. The head of the Catholic Church refused to divorce him from Catherine of Aragon, which mortally offended the proud monarch.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

If you are a romantic, then this place will surely leave an indelible mark on your soul

Unable to openly oppose the pontiff, who at that time had great influence in Europe, Henry VIII began to take revenge on the Catholic monasteries, closing them and appropriating their substantial land plots. The trouble came and in Whitby-the royal soldiers dispersed the monks, and Henry divided the land of the monastery among his loyal vassals.

Even lying in ruins, the abbey impresses with its architectural thoroughness

Since then, and to this day, for 5 centuries, Whitby Abbey has been in disrepair. At first, local peasants went to the monastery in search of loot and took stones there for construction. Also, in the spacious galleries and courtyards of the monastery, travelers often stopped, getting not too cozy, but free overnight accommodation. But then they began to say that the figure of an elderly woman in old monastic clothes began to appear in the windows of the monastery.

At night, the ruins of the monastery become like the scenery for a horror movie

The ghost was seen by many, and most of the witnesses were sure that it was the spirit of Hilda, who lost his peace, seeing the decline of the abbey and the disrespect of the laity. Finally, the locals lost the desire to play pranks in the monastery after the bell tower of the abbey at night began to sound weak, but measured strokes of the bell. Perhaps it was a trick of the wind or someone's joke, but after that Whitby Abbey became notorious.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

A foggy morning spent among the abbey stones is a great way to tickle your nerves

The monastery remembered everything — both the greedy, lustful abbots and the terrible bloodshed in the IX century and the cases of diseases and strange deaths in the surrounding area. Out of nowhere, there was also a not too decent story about the first mistress of the monastery. Some said that the woman was not such a saint and broke her vow of celibacy in her old age, for which she was immured alive in one of the walls of the abbey. The final touch was the strange story of the bell, which was once stolen by some daring guys who sailed to the abbey by sea.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

The abbey cemetery is one of the oldest in the county-it was founded in the VII century together with the monastery

The bell, which was the cause of the chilling fear of the superstitious peasants, was simply removed from the bell tower and dragged to the ship. But it was not possible to take away the last monastery relic-going out to sea, the ship ran aground, and then was smashed into splinters by an unexpected storm. The bell disappeared into the depths of the North Sea, but it did not stop. Fishermen claim that during particularly strong storms, its alarm bell can be heard from under the water.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

In 2014, Whitby Abbey hosted the Goth Festival. And where else but here?

Sometimes the bell rings in calm weather — this is considered a good sign, and if on this day there is a wedding in the city or fishing village, then the newlyweds are predicted to have a long and happy life together.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

It's hard to say how it was under Stoker, but today vampires roam around the abbey in packs

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Whitby Abbey became a place of pilgrimage for poets, mystics and just romantics. We also saw the famous author of Count Dracula, Bram Stoker. The writer repeatedly visited this place and always spoke admiringly about the cemetery of the monastery, permeated with a mystical spirit.

Researchers of the writer's work claim that this place so impressed Stoker that he described it in one of the chapters of the novel as a place where a vampire turns into a dog. The churchyard of the abbey is really worthy of attention — it has been preserved very well and among its mossy slabs you can see the tombstones of the VIII-IX century.

Stone Serpent Monastery: Why did Bram Stoker love Whitby Abbey?

Today, Whitby Abbey, of which only a few walls remain, attracts tourists, historians and, of course, informal youth. But few people dare to abuse the hospitality of the abbess's ghost — it is well known that long walks among the ruins sometimes end with a feeling of heavy unkind gaze and inexplicable panic. Even during the day, among the stones of the monastery, a lone guest does not feel at ease, and only the most risky dare to visit the ruins at night.

Keywords: Abbey | Britain | Yorkshire | Mystique

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