Whitby has a tremendous historic past, so it comes as no surprise that the town has quite a few museums. Whitby Abbey dates back to 656AD, which means there’s a lot of history to discover just on the Abbey alone. Of course, the town has always had a maritime history which includes smugglers, the press gangs, Captain Cook and the Whaling Industry.
Whitby Abbey Visitor Centre and Museum.
Take a look at the Impressive ruins of the Abbey, perched on the top of the cliff on the east side of the town, with beautiful views across the sea and along the coast. You will find the Visitor Centre and Museum next to the abbey, in a mansion house which dates back to the 1700’s. Here you can learn about the history of the Abbey and take a look at artifacts from medieval and Saxon times. There’s also a sop where you can buy history books and souvenirs.
The Abbey also holds various family events and activities throughout the year, such as historic re-enactments with Vikings and pirates, fun activities for kids and spooky treasure trails at Halloween.
For full information on the Abbey and their events and opening hours etc, take a look at the English Heritage Website. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/whitby-abbey/
Captain Cook Memorial Museum.
Captain James Cook was the famous explorer whose amazing voyages took him to the Pacific, South Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Captain Cook started off his career in Whitby as an apprentice, and the house where he lodged during these times is now a museum where you can learn about his life and his voyages. Take a walk around the museum on some of the original floorboards which Cook himself would have walked on and discover all about his voyages and discoveries.
The Museum can be found on Grape Lane on the East Side of the swing bridge. For more details on the Museum and Captain Cook, take a look at the museum website. https://www.cookmuseumwhitby.co.uk/
Whitby Museum – Pannett Park
The Whitby Museum has various collections which are displayed in 9 sections within the building. Local History, which dates back to the Middle Stone Age, through the Iron Age, Roman, Saxon and Victorian eras. Maritime Heritage, including the Whaling Industry, ship builders, explorers, and the fishermen of the town; also shipwrecks and Lifeboat rescues. You can also see a historic photographic collection, Fine Art, Social History and Natural History collections. Then to finish off, Geology and Fossils, Jet and Jet Jewellery, and Costumes and Textiles.
At the Whitby Museum you will find something to interest the whole family. The museum sits in Pannett Park, around a 10 minute walk from the Harbour. Take a walk around Pannett Park too and enjoy the floral displays and the kids playground.
For more information go to the museum website https://whitbymuseum.org.uk/
Museum of Whitby Jet.
Have you heard of Whitby Jet? Jet is a form of fossilised wood formed from a species of the Monkey Puzzle Tree dating back to the early Jurassic era, millions of years ago. Although Jet can be found worldwide, the finest quality Jet is found in seams of shale along the Whitby coastline.
The museum offers an insight into the history of Jet, explaining its geological formation and how it is made into jewellery and items of art. The history of the use of Jet and the production of ‘body adornments’ starts back in the Bronze Age, following through each era up to modern day.
Entry to the museum is free of charge and it can be found at The Old Wesley Hall on Church Street.
Whitby Lifeboats have been operating since 1802. since then, the brave crew members have received 36 RNLI medals for gallantry and have saved countless lives.
The small museum is housed in a double boathouse which was used by the RNLI between 1895 and 1956. The museum displays models, photographs, mementos from shipwrecks and tells the stories of heroic rescues and dangerous seas.
The museum is free of charge but please remember that the RNLI appreciate donations in order to fund the amazing service they offer.
The museum is on Pier Road, Whitby. Please check their website for opening times. https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/museums/whitby-lifeboat-museum