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Whitby

From Academic Kids

See also Whitby (disambiguation)

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Whitby is a historic town in North Yorkshire on the north-east coast of England. Nowadays it is a fishing port and tourist destination. It is situated 47 miles from the county town of York, at 54 deg. 29 min. 24 sec. north latitude, and 35 min. 59 sec. west longitude, at the mouth of the River Esk and spreads up the steep sides of the narrow valley carved out by the river's course. At this point the coast curves round, so the town faces more north than east.

The town has a history which dates back, at least, to Saxon times. Its early history is inseparable from the development of the monastery built on the east cliff.

In 657 the Christian Saxon King of Northumbria, Oswy (Oswiu), fulfilled a vow to build a monastery there and to consecrate his baby daughter, Ethelfleda (Rifled) to the services of God. He had made this vow when asking God to grant him victory over, Penda, the pagan Saxon King of Mercia, at a Battle of Winwaed (probably at Whinmoor, Leeds) on the 15th. of November 655. Penda and most of his nobles were killed in the battle and Oswy decreed that the monastery of Streanshalh (Streonshalh) should be built for the monks and nuns of the Benedictine order, at what later became Whitby. In fact, the original name of the settlement was taken from the monastery, Streanshalh, later it became Presteby (the habitation of Priests) then Hwytby; next Whiteby, (probably from the colour of the houses) and finally Whitby.

In 867, Danish Vikings landed two miles west of Whitby at Raven's Hill, and moved on to attack the settlement and to destroy the monastery. It was only after the Norman Conquest of 1066 that William de Percy ordered that the monastery be refounded (1078), dedicating it to St. Peter and St. Hilda.

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Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire, England

According to Langdale's Yorkshire Dictionary (1822) and Baine's Directory of the County of York (1823), even up to the reign of Elizabeth I Whitby was little more than a small fishing port. In 1540, it had consisted of only around twenty to thirty houses and had a population of about two hundred inhabitants.

At the end of the XVI. Century, Thomas Chaloner of York traveled to Italy and visited the alum works of his Holiness the Pope. He recognized that the rock from which the alum was made was identical to that abundant in several areas in and around his Guisborough estate in North Yorkshire. Alum was a very important product at that time, used internationally, in curing leather, fixing dyed cloths and for medicinal uses. Up to this period the Vatican had maintained a virtual monopoly on the production and sale of the product.

Chaloner secretly brought some of the Pope's workmen to England, and over the following years developed a thriving alum industry in Yorkshire. (It is said that this development significantly lowered the international price of alum, impacting the profitability of a traditional source of revenue for the Vatican, and that Chaloner was excommunicated).

Among the resulting alum producing centres, several were established close to Whitby, including that at Sands (now Sandsend Ness), just three miles from the town, in 1615. With this, two new, rapidly growing activities were promoted in the port of Whitby, the transport of the alum itself and that of the coal necessary for its production.

With this, the town's wealth increased and Whitby began to grow, extending its activities to include shipbuilding, using the local oak as raw material. Taxes on imports entering via the port raised the necessary finance to improve and extend the town's twin piers, thereby improving the harbour and permitting further inceases in trade.

In 1753 the first whaling ship to set sail from Whitby to Greenland. This initiated a new phase in the town's development, and by 1795 Whitby had become a major centre for the whaling industry.

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Whitby, Yorkshire, England

The modern Port of Whitby, strategically placed for shipping to Europe, with very good proximity to the Scandinavian countries, is capable of handling a wide range of cargoes, including grain, steel products, timber and potash. Vessels of up to 3000 tonnes DWT are received on a routine basis the Wharf, which has the capability of loading/unloading two ships simultaneously. 5000 sq metres of dock space is currently (2004) allocated for storage of all-weather cargo and a further 1600 sq metres of warehouse space is reserved for weather-critical goods storage.

Over the centuries, the town has spread both inland and onto the west cliff, whilst the east cliff remains dominated by the ruins of Whitby Abbey and by Saint Mary's Church. It is quite a distance to reach the east cliff by road, the alternative being to climb the 199 steps, which are famed enough that many who make the climb can be heard counting on the way up. The west cliff has its own landmarks - a statue of Captain James Cook, who sailed from the town, and an arch of whalebone, in commemoration of the once large whaling industry.

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Whitby, Yorkshire, England

One unusual feature of Whitby is the Dracula museum - a large portion of Bram Stoker's famous novel was set in Whitby, including Dracula's arrival in Britain, on a ship washed ashore in the harbour. Lucy watches from the churchyard as the sun sets over the nearby headland of Kettleness, but doesn't know how many steps she climbed to get there.

Whitby was the site of the Rohilla disaster of October 30 1914; when the hospital ship Rohilla was sunk (either by running aground, or hitting a mine; accounts differ) within sight of shore just off Whitby. Eighty-five people lost their lives in the disaster; most of them are buried in the churchyard at Whitby.

Each year, on the eve of Ascension Day the Penny Hedge ceremony is performed.

Whitby also hosts the twice-yearly Whitby Gothic Weekend, a festival for members of the goth subculture.

See also

  • Synod of Whitby
  • A History of Whitby,Andrew White, Published : 2004, ISBN1860773060

External links

de:Whitby eo:Whitby no:Whitby

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