Visiting churches and cemeteries…
on vacation helps me feel connected to the people, their past and their values. The cemeteries lure visitors with a combination of natural beauty, pretty flowers, ornate monuments and tombstones, interesting history and residents, and of course the wildlife. The churches are spellbinding with soaring, ornate architecture. You breathe in the sense of place.
Not all cemeteries have what I listed, but they do have intrigue, especially seeing them on a day with a fast-moving storm. They capture interest under a watchful eye.
I suppose I was drawn to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin because of the epic location. Presumed built in the 12th. century, the church belonged to the Abbey. It sits in the shadow of the abbey ruin, Whitby Abbey, atop the West Cliff along the North Yorkshire coast.
I will show you more of the Abbey next post. I also discuss how frustrating it can be trying to get a good photo of a beautiful place under less that optimal conditions.
The Town of Whitby is approached by the famous 199 steps that lead from the Whitby Abbey. I descended all 199 of them. It is not as tiring as the 325 of the Niagara Gorge, but it still is a long way down. You can see it is narrow and filled with tourists, but the decent presents a beautiful view of the Town of Whitby.
The cemetery has a few pasturing friends, some very cute and small ponies. Don’t think sheep were far off. Sheep are everywhere in the rural UK. I even saw llamas too.
The church is a bit unique and rather complex in nature. It has a hodgepodge building style of Norman architecture, complete with an odd use of Georgian windows and porch. Each successive generation added their own particular style as the church grew in size. Although I did not see inside the church, the interior is a “labyrinthine of complexity.” I purchased the English Heritage Guidebook, Whitby Abbey, and agree this is an odd interior layout.
What was most eye-catching though, was the windswept churchyard and neighboring cemetery. Yes, the abbey (above) was impressive, but the church and grounds pulled me away. The unkempt graveyard was like out of a movie, tombstones swallowed up by time. This really would have been a great place to photograph at the sun-kissed golden hour. You can see for miles…the North Yorkshire coastline is lovely.
What a restful place.