Whitby, North Yorkshire England UK

Whitby with the Grand Turk

Whitby with the Grand Turk and Whitby Abbey

The earliest record of a permanent settlement at Whitby was in the year of 656AD. This was when as Streanœhealh it was the place where Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria, founded the first abbey.

The Synod of Whitby was held at the abbey in 664AD, but in 867AD, the monastery was raided and destroyed by Vikings.

Another monastery was founded in 1078. It was in this period that the town gained its current name; from “white settlement” in Old Norse. In the following centuries, the town functioned as a fishing settlement until, in the 18th century, it developed as a port and centre for shipbuilding and whaling, the trade in locally mined alum, and the manufacture of Whitby jet jewellery.

Tourism started in the town during the 18th century and progressed further on the arrival of the railway in 1839. Its attraction as a tourist destination is enhanced by its proximity to the high ground of the North York Moors National Park, its Heritage Coastline and by its association with the horror novel Dracula. Jet and alum were mined locally. Whitby Jet, which was mined by the Romans and Victorians, became fashionable during the 19th century.