St Mary’s is all decked out in pine style

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.
Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Putting up and decorating one Christmas tree is enough for most people, but St Mary’s in Whitby is now home more than 50 festive spruces.

Donated by community groups, schools, charities, individuals and businesses, the annual event provides an added reason to visit the historic church.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

On the east cliff beneath Whitby’s famous abbey, the graveyard of St Mary’s makes an appearance in Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel Dracula, but it is not just its exterior that has helped put the church on the map.

The unusual box pews, some of which are inscribed “For Strangers only”, are tucked into every available space and means the Tardis-like church can hold a 1,000-strong congregation.

And no matter where you choose to sit in the building, there is no hiding place.

The three-decker pulpit, one of the few surviving examples of its kind, was designed to ensure the preacher could see every single person from the top.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

The visual tree spectacle offers visitors the chance to explore the church, or sit quietly while contemplating at Christmas time. Donations on the door will go towards the upkeep of the ancient church, which is is believed to have been founded around the year AD 1110.

St Mary’s Christmas tree festival runs until January 5, but the exhibition will be closed when regular services are taking place.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.

Christmas trees in St Mary's Church, Whitby. Pictures by Richard Ponter.