The History of St Marys Church in Whitby

St Marys is the Parish Church of Whitby and was built during the time of Abbot William de Percy approximately 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. It is extremely likely that a church stood on the same site in Saxon times.

St Mary’s Church with Whitby Abbey in the background

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 flat gables showing the result, with the lowering of the windows, though the chancel roof has since been restored with a high pitch.

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The Norman door in the south wall of t e 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. A peal of six bells was hung in 1762 weighing 65 cwt. 19 lbs., replacing four of 32% cwt. Two other bells were added in 1898, thus completing the octave, and a clock was also placed in the tower, with St Mary's Church amous three tier pulpit Cambridge chimes. Two more bells have since been added, so that, from a campanologists point of view, the installation is a perfect one. The bells have a very suttle 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.

If you get the opportunity the interior is well worth a visit with its interior being steeped in historical artefacts, it exudes an atmosphere. You can see various items of interest. There are 199 steps leading up to the church and each step as a sponsor which is represented by a folder in the church and then make an interesting read. The interior itself is a Georgian style dating from the 18th century in the style of a ship and one of the main attrCholmley Pew,actions is the famous three tier pulpit which dates back to 1778, which has two ear trumpets protruding from the top tier, which led to a nearby exceeds where the vicars wife would sit, she was profoundly deaf with the assistance of the trumpets could hear her husbands speech.

At the far end of the church there are two large wire twisted columns which at the entrance to the Cholmley Pew, who will lots of the manner and indeed lived in the large Cholmley mansion house which adjoins the Abbey itself.

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This little video shows you a fantastic panoramic view you get from the top of the 199 steps just in front of St Marys Church. You can see down into the harbour and to the west side of Whitby and the distance at the corner of The Royal hotel there is the statute of Captain Cook, the famous explorer who sets off from Whitby on many of his famous voyages. There is also the whale jaw bone Whitby which is a reminder of Whitbys historical past.

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This is a walking tour from the top of the 199 steps going down Church Street over Whitby swing bridge along Pier Road and ended up at the observation seats up the Khyber Pass.



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