Whitby Abbey

Things To See and Do

Gothic ruins

For nearly 700 years, the splendid 13th-century Gothic abbey has towered high above the town of Whitby. Today you can take in wonderful views of the coastline and town while you explore the abbey’s extensive remains.

First founded in about AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria, it was refounded after the Norman Conquest and remained a centre of religious life until it was suppressed in 1539. Centuries of wear, weather and war have left their mark, and you’ll find many layers of history to explore and unravel. 

Plan your visit

A walk through History

When you visit the abbey you’ll be following in the footsteps of many influential and creative people. Over the centuries, the abbey’s haunting ruins have inspired religious leaders, artists, writers and poets.

Among them was St Hild, a pioneering abbess. She hosted the 7th century Synod of Whitby at the abbey, where church leaders decided the English Church should follow Roman rather than Celtic practices - establishing the Roman method of calculating the date of Easter that is still in use today. Legend also has it that St Hild chased snakes away from the abbey, and that her righteous rage turned them into stone. 

History of Whitby Abbey

Visitor Centre & Museum

The visitor centre is housed in a 17th-century mansion. Inside you’ll find a new museum that tells the story of the abbey with the help of objects like Anglo-Saxon crosses, medieval manuscripts and even a rare signed copy of Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’.

There’s also a shop in the visitor centre – it’s the perfect place to pick up a memento of your visit. If you’re feeling thirsty, head to the new coffee shop, just by the entrance. 


Opening times

Family Fun & Events

There’s plenty for families to do at the abbey. Roam the wide open spaces of the abbey grounds, enjoy a relaxing picnic and play hide and seek among the ruins. Family activities and events take place during the school holidays, including Easter quests, Dracula performances and our ever popular Viking battles.  

Family Guide