Whitby Histrory related to Cliff Street (The Mount, Wind Lane, Wynd Lane, Russel Lane)
The more we look in to the history of the Whitby cottage, the more interesting it gets. To get a feel for cottage in context through the years I've comissoned what will be an interesting piece of part fiction and part historical writing.
Below is a summary, after preliminary investigations of this project by the author.
Thanks to Alice Bell for taking on the commission.
Whitby Project- Summary
Section One- 1078 (Restoration and remodelling of Whitby Abbey has just begun)
i- A short story told from the perspective of a pig farmer living on the West cliff- Covers the origin of the name 'Streoneshalch' and 'Whitby', a brief overview of the original founding of the monastery, the relationship between the Church and the Peasantry, and the reality of life as a commoner under the Feudal system whilst highlighting the importance of aural history through references to Caedmon's hymn.
ii- A more detailed look back at Anglo Saxon and Middle Ages Whitby including knowledge that wouldn't have been available or of import to a member of the illiterate but religious peasantry. A greater emphasis is placed on the tale of Saint Hilde and the Ecclesiastical History with explicit references to the Venerable Bede. Topics covered include the Whitby Synod of the 7th Century which shaped the religious direction of the Kingdom of Northumbria (Roman Catholicism vs Irish Catholicism, King Aldfrith and his court (convened, for a time, in Whitby), the minor churches that fell under Whitby Abbey's jurisdiction such as Hackness, and the effect of Viking raiders and traders on the History of Whitby (not least it's name). References to Whitby's rich literary heritage, starting with Caedmon, would also be referenced.
iii- An imitation of a monastic styled manuscript of Caedmon's hymn, written in both Old English and Modern English for display purposes, utilising the 10th Century Carolingian script.
Section Two- 1553 (14 years after the dissolution of the monasteries, two years after the Liberty of Whitby Abbey was sold to the Cholmleys, the year of Mary I's coronation)
i-A short story told from the perspective of a farmer living in the same area as the house- Potentially the house itself depending on the response from the Yorkshire Vernacular (can be changed as appropriate). A tight focus on the small nature of the town (200+ residents), the religious atmosphere at the time (swinging between Protestant to Catholic) and the detrimental effect of the closing of the monastery on the local populace. Should also represent the change of Whitby from being a religious centre to a small fishing port
ii- As with the previous section, the narrator would have most likely been illiterate and more focused on his family and friends' well being rather than the political and social climate as a whole. The riches and corruption of the Catholic Church, extending to Whitby Abbey, will be briefly discussed, including the practises of touching the bones of saints for a price, and the forgery of artefacts of religious significance. The chipping away of the Catholic Church's power in England will be mentioned over the years 1530-1536, before moving onto the systematic sacking of Monasteries to line the Royal Coffers. Whitby Abbey was notably one of the last to be sacked. Discussion will then be focused on the transference of ownership of the Liberty of Whitby Abbey (excluding Hackness) from the Earl of Warwick (1550), to Sir John York (1551) to the Cholmleys. It will also be made explicit that whilst Queen Mary I did attempt to restore Catholicism, it never amounted to the restoration of Whitby Abbey.
iii- A sketch of the outside of the house at this point in time- Dependent on how old the Yorkshire Vernacular believe the building to be.
Section Three- 1654 (Top of the house constructed by this point, mid-way through Cromwellian rule)
i- A short story told from the perspective of the resident of our house (either a farmer or fisherman- Fisherman seems more likely considering the expansion?) which we know was definitely standing at this point in time. He would cover the addition of the top floor of the house, the prosperity of Queen Elizabeth's rule and the establishment of Whitby as a trading port via the work of the Burgesses, thus bringing money into the community- This would then be contrasted by the financial pressures applied by the crown (Charles I) through the instatement of Ship Money as a permanent coastal tax. He would then discuss Whitby's alignment in the Civil war, (1642-43 Royalist, 1644-45 Parliamentarian) and the attempted imposition of a centrally controlled Government over the rule of the Burgesses. Note to self- This is all through the eyes of a slightly more political aware individual, but it should still be told from his perspective.
ii- A sketch of the house as it would have stood in 1650, including the supports of the roof that identified it as such (Check with AGB)
Section Four- 1780 (1 year after Captain James Cook's death)
i- A short story told from the perspective of a well paid/well respected ship builder (See records at home- Can't tell from memory but I believe the records we have stretch that far back, therefore changing the slight details of the text) A probable social climber who remodelled the house, evidenced by the long board panelling dividing the rooms on the 1st floor and the marble(?) mantelpiece. The text would initially focus on a rich description of the drawing room as it would have appeared, allowing holiday makers/readers to compare it to the restoration. It would then focus on the burgeoning ship building industry and how he believes it will become one of the biggest ship builders in the country (with some truth, compare to 1790 figures of ships built). Discussion of how the increasing globalisation has increased trade, with brief reference to Captain Cook- Focus on whaling in Greenland using Whitby ships for whaling (uses of whale bones). Mention the Cholmley house and its subsequent abandonment. Bring his wife into it- Through to C1850 Whitby acknowledged as a centre of trade and relaxation (spa town), newly built circle of houses on the cliff (check dates). Beginnings of a popular tourist destination. Long story short, trade trade money trade which allowed for the sumptuous decoration of his house.
ii- Short biography of Captain Cook (attend Museum for detailed, easily referenced information) and reference to the Whale Bone arch.
iii- Whitby map (1740) can go here- Maybe cleaned up for display/presentation?
Section 5- 1897 (Victorian Era, year of Dracula's Publication)
i- A short story from the perspective of whoever owned the house at the time (as above, records at home and I'm almost certain they go this far back) Whitby firmly established as a popular tourist industry. Fishing and trade still going strong, but whaling has fallen to the side (Early 1830s) along with ship building (1891). An outsiders look on Charity and poverty within Whitby, contrasted with the surge in wealth following the rise in popularity in Jet and the constant stream of tourists. References made to both Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (attend Sutcliffe gallery to refer to specific portraits or scenes perhaps?) and Bram Stoker holidaying- Maybe met in passing? Reasonable considering his close proximity to the circle of houses where Stoker holidayed. References to the decoration of the time (compare to the photos of wallpaper to evoke the image)- Use the style of speech in Dracula (Epistolary Novel) to evoke the natural feel of how people may have spoken during the time. Mention origins of Whitby Regatta festival.
ii- A short Biography of Stoker including his influences for Dracula- Tales he was told as a child, Whitby Abbey, meeting with Armey Vambrey etc. Focus on his years of research and style of writing- traditionally gothic. Reference how Dracula was initially unpopular.
Section 6- Buying, restoration, and research process
-A short summary of the blog with EXPLICIT reference to go look up the full story- Very brief, one page max?
- Research process, include contribution and thanks to Whitby Museum for their initial help, Whitby Abbey/English Heritage, Captain Cook Museum, Yorkshire Vernacular, and Kelly Kilpatrick
-Where is Whitby now? Goth culture, Regatta weekend, Folk Festival, huge tourist pull for its beauty and history