Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Whitby Abbey. Saint Hilda Of Whitby.

Text is from Wikipedia -the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Whitby Abbey, 
Yorkshire, England, 
at Sunset.
Photo: 12 April 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Ackers72.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Within the beautiful Abbey at Whitby, from the 7th-Century to the 16th-Century, many Divine Prayers and Hymns were said and sung by the Community of Monks and Nuns (it was a Double Monastery). Initially, the Head of the Double Monastery was a woman, Abbess Hilda.

A Stained-Glass Window, depicting Saint Hilda,
Photo: 17 May 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Weglinde.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Hilda of Whitby, or Hild of Whitby (circa 614 A.D. – 680 A.D.), is a Christian Saint and the Founding Abbess of the Monastery at Whitby, which was chosen as the venue for The Synod of Whitby in 664 A.D. An important figure in The Conversion of England to Christianity, she was Abbess at several Monasteries and recognised for the wisdom that drew Kings to her for advice.

The source of information about Hilda is The Ecclesiastical History of The English, by The Venerable Bede, in 731 A.D., who was born approximately eight years before her death.
He documented much of the Christian Conversion of The Anglo-Saxons.

Whitby Abbey is a ruined Benedictine Abbey overlooking the North Sea, on the East Cliff above Whitby, in North Yorkshire, England. It was dis-established during The Dissolution of The Monasteries, under the auspices of King Henry VIII.

It is a Grade I Listed Building in the care of English Heritage and its Site Museum is housed in Cholmley House.

The first Monastery, at Streoneshalh (the older name for Whitby), was founded in 657 A.D., by the Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria, Oswy (Oswiu). He appointed Lady Hilda, Abbess of Hartlepool Abbey and grand-niece of Edwin, the first Christian King of Northumbria, as Founding Abbess.

English: The Ruins of Whitby Abbey.
Project Gutenberg eText 16785.
Español: Ruinas de Streonæshalch (Abadía de Whitby).
Source: From The Project Gutenberg EBook of Our Catholic Heritage in
English Literature of Pre-Conquest Days, by Emily Hickey.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The name "Streoneshalh" is thought to signify Fort Bay, or Tower Bay, in reference to a supposed Roman Settlement that previously existed on the site. This contention has never been proven and alternative theories have been proposed, such as the name meaning Streona's Settlement. Some believe that the name referred to Eadric Streona, but this is highly unlikely for chronological reasons; Streona died in 1017, so the naming of Streoneshalh would have preceded his birth by several hundred years.

The Double Monastery, of Celtic Monks and Nuns, was home to the great Northumbrian poet Caedmon. In 664 A.D., the Synod of Whitby - at which King Oswiu ruled that the Northumbrian Church would adopt the Roman calculation of Easter and Monastic Tonsure - took place at the Abbey.

Streoneshalch was laid waste by Danes in successive raids between 867 A.D. and 870 A.D., under Ingwar and Ubba, and remained desolate for more than 200 years. The existence of 'Prestebi', meaning the habitation of Priests, in Old Norse, in the Domesday Survey, may point to the revival of Religious Life since Danish times. The old Monastery, given to Reinfrid, comprised about forty ruined Monasteria vel oratoria, similar to Irish Monastic ruins, with numerous Chapels and Cells.

Ruins of Whitby Abbey,
Yorkshire, England.
Photo: 29 October 2007.
Source: Whitby Abbey 1.
Author: Chris Kirk.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Reinfrid, a Soldier of William the Conqueror, became a Monk and travelled to Streoneshalh, which was then known as Prestebi or Hwitebi (the "White Settlement" in Old Norse). He approached William de Percy, who gave him the ruined Monastery of Saint Peter, with two Carucates of land, to Found a new Monastery. Serlo de Percy, the Founder's brother, joined Reinfrid at the new Monastery, which followed The Benedictine Rule.

The second Monastery lasted until it was destroyed by King Henry VIII, in 1540, during The Dissolution of The Monasteries. Though the Abbey fell into ruin, it remained a prominent landmark for Sailors and helped inspire Bram Stoker's Dracula. The ruins are now owned and maintained by English Heritage.

The Imperial German Navy's Battlecruiser, SMS Von der Tann, at anchor.
The photo was probably taken during Von der Tann´s cruise to South America in 1911.
The Von der Tann bombarded Whitby (and Whitby Abbey) in December 1914.
Source: This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's
Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ggbain.16927.
Author: B. Hopkins.
This File: 30 November 2006.
User: Balcer.
(Wikimedia Commons)

English: The Imperial German Battlecruiser, SMS Derfflinger,
interned at Scapa Flow, Orkney Isles, Scotland.
Suomi: Saksalainen taisteluristeilijä SMS Derfflinger.
The Derfflinger 
bombarded Whitby (and Whitby Abbey) in December 1914.
Date: 1918/1919.
Source: Scanned from: 
Herwig, Holger (1980) "Luxury" Fleet: The Imperial German Navy
1888-1918, Amherst, New York: Humanity Books ISBN: 9781573922869.
Page 82. Image is credited as an Imperial War Museum photograph.
Author: Unknown.
This File: 15 October 2012.
User: Parsecboy.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In December 1914, Whitby Abbey was shelled by the German Battlecruisers Von der Tann and Derfflinger, who were aiming for the Signal Post on the end of the Headland. Scarborough and Hartlepool were also attacked. The Abbey sustained considerable damage during the ten minute attack, the BBC included before and after photographs as part of the First World War Centenary.

Fountains Abbey, 
Yorkshire, England,
was the Mother House of Whitby Abbey.
Photo: 28 June 2014.
Source: Own work.
Author: Diliff.
Attribution: "Photo by DAVID ILIFF.
License: CC-BY-SA 3.0".
(Wikimedia Commons)

Whitby Abbey was rendered famous in fiction by Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula", as Dracula came ashore there, as a creature resembling a large dog, and proceeded to climb the 199 steps which lead up to the ruins.

The original gift of William de Percy not only included the Monastery of Saint Peter, at Streoneshalch, but the Town and Port of Whitby, with its Parish Church of Saint Mary and six dependent Chapels at Fyling, Hawsker, Sneaton, Ugglebarnby, Dunsley, and Aislaby, five mills, including Ruswarp, the Town of Hackness, with two Mills, and the Parish Church of Saint Mary, and the Church of Saint Peter, at Hackness, "where our Monks served God, died, and were buried," and various other gifts enumerated in the "Memorial" in the Abbot's Book.

The first Prior, Reinfrid, ruled for many years, before being killed in an accident. He was buried at the Church of Saint Peter, at Hackness. He was succeeded as Prior by Serlo de Percy.

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