The Anglo-Saxon era King of Northumbria, Oswy (Oswiu) founded Whitby’s first monastry as Streoneshalh (the older name for Whitby) in 657 AD. Lady Hilda, abbess of Hartlepool Abbey and grand-niece of Edwin the first Christian king of Northumbria, was the founding abbess. The name Streoneshalh is thought to mean Fort Bay or Tower Bay.
In 664 King Oswiu ruled at the Synod of Whitby that the Northumbrian church would adopt the Roman calculation of Easter and monastic tonsure.
The monastry was laid waste by Danish raids in 867 and 870. Hwitebi means the “white settlement” in old Norse.
A second monastry was founded until the dissolution of the monastries by King Henry the Eighth in 1540.
A lot of damage was done when the Abbey was shelled in December 1914 by German warships during the first world war.
The Abbey was made famous in the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker and the town is visited regularly by Goths today.