How you can walk in the footsteps of Dracula in Whitby

Landscape image showing the ruins of Whitby Abbey reflected in a pond in front of the abbey taken in

Landscape image showing the ruins of Whitby Abbey reflected in a pond in front of the abbey taken in evening light with dramatic clouds - Credit: Neal Rylatt/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Walk in the footsteps of Dracula and his creator Bram Stoker and discover how Whitby helped the novelist create the most famous vampire story ever written.

Make sure to follow all government guidelines, such as staying local and practising social distancing, to minimise the spread of coronavirus. Some locations mentioned are currently closed but will re-open to the public shortly.

Bram Stoker's Bench 

Looking across the harbour in Whitby Yorkshire

Looking across the harbour in Whitby Yorkshire, this is reportedly the view that inspired Bram Stoker to set parts of Dracula in the seaside town. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Take a seat on the bench and let the sweeping view of the harbour and the distant and almost spectral Whitby Abbey ruins transport you into the mind of Bram Stoker, for it is said this very view inspired him to set parts of Dracula in Whitby. The bench was installed in 1980 by the Scarborough Council and the Dracula Society to mark the 68th anniversary of the author's death. 

Whitby Museum, Library & Archive 

The Whitby Museum in Pannett Park, Whitby

The Whitby Museum in Pannett Park, Whitby - Credit: Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society

During his stay in Whitby, Bram Stoker visited the library that was once on the quayside but is now housed in the Whitby Museum at Pannett Park. Stoker first discovered the name for his iconic villain from a book he borrowed called An Account of the Principalities Wallachia and Moldovia written by diplomat William Wilkinson.  

Most people assume it was the notorious Vlad the Impaler that inspired Stoker’s Count Dracula, however it was actually his father, Vlad II of Wallachia aka Vlad Dracul. Wilkinson’s footnote goes on to explain that Dracul was a surname given to fearsome warriors or the most wicked of people. Stoker then wrote in his notebook that ‘Dracula in the Wallachian language means devil’, and with that the most famous vampire in literary history got his name. 

The museum is currently closed due to COVID-19 but is soon to re-open.

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Tate Hill Pier 

View of the Tate Hill Pier and surrounding beach

The beach next to Tate Hill Pier is where Dracula first sets foot in England. - Credit: Dave Hitchborne/Geograph

Stoker was inspired by the true story of the Dmitri, a Russian ship from Navra (now in modern day Estonia) that became shipwrecked on the beach in 1885. With a simple and not too different rename Dracula dramatically arrives on the shores of Whitby in a ship from Varna called the Demeter.

Climb the 199 steps 

The famous 199 steps that lead up to the Church of St. Mary in Whitby

Brace yourself before climbing the famous 199 Steps that lead up to the Church of St. Mary, but the view is definitely worth the hike. - Credit: Martin Dawes/Geograph

In the novel the Count takes on the form of a large black dog and bounds up the famous 199 steps.

In the past funeral processions would use these steps to take coffins up the hill to the Church of St. Mary. For this reason, there are several benches along the steps so the coffin bearers could be place the coffin safely on the benches to catch their breath for a moment before ascending towards the graveyard at St. Mary's again.

Church of St. Mary 

The Church of St. Mary sits atop the East Cliff in Whitby

The Church of St. Mary sits atop the East Cliff in Whitby - Credit: David Dixon/Geograph

Lucy Westenra, close friend of Mina Harker and a victim of the Count, famously takes a night-time walk along the East Cliff in the novel and sits on a bench next to the Church.

Stoker details Mina running from North Terrace to East Cliff then down past the fish-market and over the Whitby Bridge and up the 199 steps to rescue her somnambulist friend from the shadowy figure of the Count.

It is also at St. Mary’s that Dr Seward encounters Dracula standing in one of the church’s windows in a typically dramatic moment.

Whitby Abbey  

Landscape image showing the ruins of Whitby Abbey reflected in a pond in front of the abbey taken in

Landscape image showing the ruins of Whitby Abbey reflected in a pond in front of the abbey taken in evening light with dramatic clouds - Credit: Neal Rylatt/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Stoker writes in Dracula that Whitby Abbey ‘is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits". It is no wonder this Gothic ruin inspired Stoker as it dominates the East Cliff vista and is thoroughly dramatic against the bold colours of the sunset.

When it re-opens make sure to pop inside the Whitby Abbey visitor centre to see the first edition of Dracula that Bram Stoker signed in 1901.

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