Exploring Whitby’s hidden heritage

Clark's yard
Clark's yard

HOW did the River Esk lead to the development of Whitby, what are the original features still remaining in a former Methodist Church and what is the folk-lore surrounding the Abbey lands?

Discover the answer to these questions as three new venues have been added to the programme for this year’s Heritage Open Days taking place tomorrow and Sunday.



The event is a one off opportunity to see parts of Whitby’s past which are normally hidden away from the public.

Local residents and businesses kindly open the doors to their homes and premises for the for the venture managed by Whitby Civic Society.

The additions to this year’s tour are the Brunswick Centre which is a grade 2 listed building and while it is no longer used as a Methodist Church, plenty of historical and periodic features remain such as the organ and pulpit area, stained glass windows and pitched pine gallery.

For the first time there will be a guided walk on the Abbey Lands which provide the boundary to the Abbey’s ecclesiastical estate. A archaeologist will be on hand to point out historical features and local tales en-route.

Clark's yard

Clark's yard

And for anyone interested in Whitby’s port and harbour which for many years was and still is the lifeblood into the town the Whitby piers event is one not to be missed. There will be a presentation about its changing structure and after lunch along the way of a guided walk people can learn about the timelines of development of industry in and around the harbour.

As well as the additions to the programme some of the Heritage Open Day’s favourite venues will once again be open to the public.

Whitby Pavilion Theatre (spa) - Sunday, 1pm-3.30pm

It was built in 1880 by a friend of the famous railway engineer George Hudson. There are displays of Victorian architecture and features. The theatre was visited by famous Victorians Sir Henry Irving, Gerald Du Maurier and of course the novelist Bram Stoker.

Whitby Pier

Whitby Pier

Guided Georgian Walk - Sunday 10.45am-12.30pm

Wander around Georgian Streets such as Cliff Street, Flowergate, St Hilda’s Terrace, Bagdale and Baxtergate. The meeting point for this mile walk over an hour and a half is the Captain Cook Monument.

St Hilda’s Parish Church on the West Cliff - Sunday 2.30pm-4.30pm

It was built in 1884 and had been designed by R J Johnson of Newcastle. This is a big church with fabrics and furnishings of interest and stained glass.

Union Place, 9 Upgang Lane, Saturday and Sunday 2pm-4pm

A prime example of a Georgian town house. The building has a distinctive bottle shaped window, original terrace garden and grand sweeping staircases.

Unitarian Chapel, Flowergate (lower end), Saturday and Sunday, 11am-4pm

A chapel has stood on the site since the 18th century. Originally a Presbyterian but later Unitarian this present building dates back to 1812. Points of interest include box pews, a covered lectern and gallery.

United Reform Church, Flowergate, Saturday 10am-4pm

The church was built in 1878 as the Trinity Presbyterian Church to replace the Presbyterian church in Cliff Street. When the Presbyterian Church of England joined with the Congregational Church in 1972 it became the United Reform. Then in 2006 Robin Hood’s Bay and Trinity URCs closed and the congregations formed becoming known as Flowergate URC. Major alterations took place in the building in the 1960s, 1990s and more recently in the last couple of years including new railings made by local blacksmith James Godbolt. Nesting boxes for swifts have been fitted in the tower and there will be various displays in the church as well as teas, coffees and light refreshments.

St John the Evangelist, Brunswick Street, Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 12.30pm-3.30pm

An example of a church in the early English style having been built around 1848 as a chapel of ease for St Mary’s.

St Hilda’s (RC) Church, Brunswick Street, Saturday and Sunday 2.30pm-4.30pm

Although built in 1867 it is reflective of 13th century Gothic. Some parts of the exterior have been altered including the tower which was damaged during the second world war. Inside though items worthy of note are the high altar, statues and stained glass windows devoted to St Hilda and in 1892 a Stations of the Cross was erected.

St Ninian’s Church, Baxtergate, Saturday 11am-3pm and Sunday, 11.30am-3pm

Dating back to 1778 there is still the original gallery inside with box pews and the lower level of the church has been refurbished in Catholic style.

Victoria Spa Well, off Bagdale, Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm

This brick built cylinder shaped structure was built in the mid 19th century as a rebuild of an earlier building. There is extensive stencilled interior decorations.

2 Blackburn’s Yard, off Church Street, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm

An example of a terraced cottage from the 17th century which was refurbished during Georgian and Victorian periods. There are stone mullion windows, cruck frame a Georgian fire place and 17th century wood panelling.

Whitby Yards, old cobbled Church Street, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm

See rows of cottages from the 17th and 18th century tucked away in little yards off Church Street. The residents of Clark’s Yard, Borough Place and Blackburn’s Yard will be happy to talk to visitors.

Whitby Jet Heritage, Church Street, Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm

This can only be seen here - an original 19th century jet workshop which was discovered sealed in the attic of a derelict building in Burns Yard. It has been reconstructed on the present site and features additions of other jet memorabilia and contemporary exhibits.

Abbey House, Youth Hostel, Saturday and Sunday 1.30pm-5pm

This grade 1 listed building has been restored thanks to a £3.5 million lottery project but still displays features ranging from the 12th to the 19th century not to mention a 13th century carved oak beam, wattle and daub and Victorian stained glass. Throughout the weekend there will be a children’s history trail which lasts for 45 minutes giving youngsters (aged between 7 and 12) the chance to play historical detective as they search for clues throughout the house and garden.