The Church of St. Mary, which became, and still is, the parish church of Whitby, was built in the time of the Abbot William de Percy (about the year 1110) for the use of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood; the Abbey Church being reserved for the monks, and for such friends as they chose to admit.

St Mary's church in Whitby with Whitby Abbey in the background

lt is extremely likely that a church stood on the same site in Saxon times. The church originally consisted of a chancel and nave, to which transepts and tower were added in the 12th and 13th centuries, thereby making it cruciform, and so remained until 1818, when the north wall was removed, producing an almost indescribable figure for a church.

The high pitched roofs of nave, transepts, and chancel were removed, owing to some disaster, in the year 1614, the present flattened gables showing the result. With the lowering of the windows, though the chancel roof has since been restored with a high pitch.

St Mary's Church panoramic view


The Norman door in the south wall of the nave was closed, and the present porch built in 1823. In the interior, from 1695 to 1818, the various galleries were from time to time erected, the square-headed windows made, and the old Norman ones brought lower down for the sake of light.

St Mary's Church inside tour

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A peal of six bells was hung in 1762 weighing 65 cwt. 19 lbs., replacing four of 325 cwt. Two other bells were added in 1898, thus completing the octave, and a clock was also placed in the tower, with Cambridge chimes.

St Marys famouse three tier pulpit 1778

St Marys famouse three tier pulpi

Two more bells have since been added, so that, from a campan0l0gist’s point of view, the installation is a perfect one. The bells have a very fine tone, all ten being re-cast together in 1950. The foot of the tower is 200 feet above low-water mark, and the church is reached after an ascent of 199 steps

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