From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

St. Mary's, Whitby

54°29'20.2"N 0°36'36.4"W
NZ 9013411290

  • History
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  • Gallery
St. Mary's, is an Anglican parish church in the town of Whitby, North Yorkshire.

The church was built by the Normans around 1110, although it has been expanded and altered over the centuries. The tower and transepts are from the 12th and 13th centuries. One of the oldest parts of the church is the quire which has three round-headed windows at its east end. Its side walls originally had three bays with similar windows but have been altered. The nave has five bays and is contemporary with the quire, its south wall is much altered but three external buttresses remain.

When the church was enlarged in 1818 most of the north wall was removed and replaced by columns to accommodate an aisle, four large square-headed windows were inserted on the south side, the south porch was built in 1823 and a north porch built in the new annexe. The transept was built in the 13th century and has three altered lancet windows in its northern arm while its southern arm is considerably changed and its windows all replaced.

The three-stage west tower has a squat appearance, its corners supported by flat buttresses and its embattled parapet is a 16th-century addition. Of its ring of eight bells, six are inscribed, "Whitby 1762 Lester and Pack of London fecit" and two were added in 1897. The nave and transept have 19th-century galleries accessed by internal and external staircases and a three-decker pulpit which was installed in 1778 and altered in 1847. The box pews, some of which are inscribed For Strangers Only, date to the18th-century, north of the chancel arch is a Jacobean pew.

Two significant land slips due to broken drainage and torrential rain, the first occurring in November 2012, have placed the churchyard, and properties below the cliff, in significant jeopardy. Whitby town councillor Steve Smith stated the church was in no danger, having been built on solid rock. Human remains have fallen onto the street below, and pathways on the cliff-side of the church have been closed.

Bram Stoker used St Mary's Church graveyard as the setting for a scene in his novel, Dracula.

The church is a Grade I listed building.