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An investment of £1.6 million at Whitby Abbey in Northern England will pave the way for a new museum, improvements to the courtyard and visitor centre as well as a new coffee shop.
Whitby Abbey, which attracts over 150,000 visitors a year, will see improvements to three key areas and benefit from a newly designed museum and interpretation located at key points around the site.
The new museum space will provide an opportunity to learn more about the rich history of the abbey. The exhibition will range from the early Bronze Age through to the occupation of the site by the Cholmley family in the late 1600s. The displays will house rare and internationally significant collection objects.
“We want visitors to understand the significance of the site, explored through the prism of the headland,” says Ruth Haycock, Interpretation Manager at English Heritage,” – a place of sanctity, spirituality and a great source of inspiration for visual and literary figures throughout history.”
The other proposed works will see improvements to both entrances as well as to the courtyard, visitor centre and the addition of a small coffee shop. The courtyard will be re-landscaped with a line of trees down the centre to frame the approach to the visitor centre, guiding visitors in.
The existing cobbles will be carefully lifted and re-laid. Contemporary seating benches will be added and the spaces will be replanted with herbs inspired by medieval times. Sage, dill and lavender will give off the scent of a medieval monastic infirmary and encourage visitors to pause and enjoy the views of the imposing ruins.
Throughout the open green spaces of the headland, cultural and historical information – which will appeal to all ages – will be strategically placed to tell the story of Whitby Abbey’s diverse and fascinating history.
The shop in the visitor centre, which was a grand banqueting hall in the 17th Century, will be extended to cover the ground floor allowing a better flow of people and helping to prevent queues at peak times.
The Lodge at the north entrance at the top of the 199 steps – currently used as an admissions point – will become a coffee shop in partnership with the YHA, selling tea, coffee, tray-bakes, sandwiches and ice-creams.
Work is due to start on the 5 November 2018 and runs until the spring of 2019.
See also: Before Dracula: The Rise and Fall of Whitby Abbey