Thursday, 2 August 2012

windblown at whitby abbey

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Last week I returned to one of my favourite places on earth... Whitby. Sometimes I feel so lucky to have roots in this gorgeous and character-filled town, although I don't know if it's my nostalgia that lends it so much importance, or its real glory that makes me nostalgic. What I do know, is that every time I come to the top of a certain hill on the road across the North Yorkshire moors, and see, past fields of brown or black or purple heather, a slice of blue sea and the ruined shell of a church, I'm completely overcome with joy. I'm not from Whitby myself, but my father is and I've been going more or less regularly since I was two years old.

With surprisingly decent weather and Albert in town to visit for a weekend, there was an obvious first destination: the abbey grounds. Just enough of Whitby Abbey survived the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII to allow it to dominate the landscape for miles around. A book we bought suggested that its solitary silhouette perched on the cliff's edge is misleading: there were many buildings clustered around it before, and the cliff would have extended much further hundreds of years ago and sheltered the main building, but if it wasn't always quite so picturesque, it nonetheless has great historical and literary significance. The Synod of Streaneshalch (the pre-Danish, Anglo-Saxon name of the town) decided whether religion in Britain would follow the Roman or Celtic traditions. One of the only surviving Anglo-Saxon poems is "Caedmon's Hymn," supposedly written by a layman at the Abbey who, in 680, fell asleep after too much mead and discovered a previously-unsuspected aptitude for music in a dream. He is the first named English poet, and although his hymn is fairly tedious (I took Anglo-Saxon in University and had to read it) I have a fondness for him for his Whitby connection. And of course, the haunting sight of Whitby Abbey and red-roofed town huddled below it inspired the English portions of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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Apart from being a lovely (warm!) day, it was a weekend and actors were performing an abridged version of Dracula on the Abbey grounds, in an among the standing columns and crumbling walls, projecting over the wind that whistled in from the headland.

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Photos by Albert and I

P.S. I know, I know. Black sweater, blue shoes. But after the ridiculously stressful week I had prior to leaving Barcelona, I'm impressed I even packed shoes. :)

27 comments:

Georgia Rose said...

Emily, I love how you always have cultural and historic information in your posts, as well as pretty pictures and pretty clothes. It makes a fashion-y blog SO much more interesting!

As for the blue + black, I say pssht. I hadn't noticed that is was a ~faux pas, and I think being a sitckler for the fashion rules is dreadfully tiresome and pedantic. You look beautiful.

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

Thanks Georgia! I'm especially passionate about Whitby, but I'm aiming to get my writing back up to standard on the blog in general. Sometimes it's easy to slip into "on Saturday I went for breakfast and it was nice," syndrome, but ultimately I like to share a bit more context. :)

Jane said...

Dracula is one of my favourite books, so I loved this post! It does look like an amazing place.

Cute dress! I love black and blue together, I never understood why it's not cool.

Rachel, Cold Knees said...

What a beautiful place, Whitby sounds great, I do quite fancy a visit. Lovely pics xx

Sierra said...

What a lovely place! I especially love the second-to-last photo. No one cares that you wore black and blue. You always look gorgeous :)

http://viennawaitsblog.blogspot.com/

Carrie said...

Seriously love that dress. If you ever get tired of it, you can send it to me...let me know when you need my address. ;-)

Beautiful place!!

Closet Fashionista said...

First, love the look. And second....wow that is breathtaking!!! I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in person!! I really need to go to Europe/out of the US more often to see all the old architecture...
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Norbyah said...

emily, these pictures are gorgeous....and i just LOVE that dress. it's a classic. i always love how you give us little tidbits of information about the places you visit. such a treat for us to learn.
xo
n

Anonymous said...

Oh I love your outfit the dress is so cute!! The shoes go so very well with it, very nautical themed.If you considered wearing blue or white tights with your outfit you would look like woman from the 20s or 30s.

Alexandriaweb said...

Whitby is beautiful, and one of my favourite places too :)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Anonymous: Thank you, that's what I was hoping for when I bought this dress! (but I hate tights so they must wait for cooler weather like, erm, today).

Amber said...

my goodness, that a beautiful location. I have a soft spot for ruins. To me they are more romantic than a million red roses and bus loads of chocolate.

Miss Marie said...

I love Whitby Abbey and Whitby town. I've only been once but I found it absolutely astonishing and totally lived up to the romantic expectations I had for it. My mother bought me a Whitby jet ring while we were there and I have worn it every day since... So, it definitely has a special place in my heart, even if I don't get to frequent it!

Valerie Enríquez said...

That view looks amazing, and the ruins are so gorgeous. It's amazing that it's withstood so much and that you've been able to visit for so many years! x

Laura said...

Ahhh, such a cute look - and what a gorgeous location!

thejoyfulfox.blogspot.com

Ashley said...

How beautiful is this place? I'll have to visit it when I'm (hopefully) in the UK. Just waitign for my visa to get approved! :)

Sandra said...

Gorgeous dress <3

Josephine Pearl said...

I love your sailor style dress, you look so pretty and perfect for a visit to the seaside. Whitby Abbey is a stunning place, great photos.

Jo. x

dr.antony said...

Hi Emily
After so long!
I missed your older posts for some time and am catching up.
As always you look so fresh and the pictures so beautiful.I wish I could travel the way you do.Lend me your slippers!

Hannah said...

Beautiful Whitby! I went there a few years ago and wanted to live in the ruins, I love the walk from there down to the town. You look lovely xx

The Braided Bandit said...

Whitby Abbey looks so gorgeous! Thanks for including a little context along with your pretty dress, I really didn't know anything about the place before!

Monique said...

it's no wonder this is your favorite place, it's fascinating. i really like that you have on sneakers and the blue/black worked out just fine. Hope things are much more relaxed these days.

Anonymous said...

That dress is so wonderful and its so chic! I think these shoes (the first pair)
http://www.muffys.com/modern_traditional.html
and these socks would go well with it.
http://www.buycostumes.com/Lace-Ruffle-Ankle-Socks-White/21742/ProductDetail.aspx

Is It Secret, Is It Safe said...

That looks like the most beautiful place! What lovely pictures!
I love your sailor dress!

-Katie

Lorena said...

What a spectacular location... the pictures are breathtaking - and you look lovely in that dress.

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

Ah, history and ruins. I love it. You and Albert did a great job photographing the Abbey. I'm glad you had a warm day to enjoy it!

daria said...

what a wonderful place! and your sailor attire is just adorable!