Not every visitor to Whitby is aware of the town’s connection with Dracula. An Irish novelist, Bram Stoker wrote his famous novel in 1897, and being a frequent visitor to the seaside town used Whitby as a backdrop for some of the scenes described in his book.
Whilst staying there and listening to stories told by the townsfolk fact was weaved into his tale. For example several years before he visited Whitby a ship, the Demetrius, floundered on rocks near the harbour mouth. The ship’s cargo of coffins for burial were washed overboard, the contents to be found over the coming days on the town’s beaches and along the coast in varying states of decay. The Demetrius became the Russian schooner Demeter with all hands aboard dead, from which Dracula, in the form of a dog, bound ashore and ran up the famous 199 steps to St Mary’s church and the graveyard at the top. Stoker carried out some of his research into East European folklore at Whitby library, and stayed at number 6 Royal Crescent which bears a commemorative plaque.
It is also suggested that whilst sitting in a local inn at dusk pigeons tapping at the sight of their own reflections in the glass became the inspiration for Dracula tapping on Lucy’s bedroom window with his long finger nails. Those who have read the book and visited Whitby will have no trouble in identifying streets and locations from the descriptive narrative. Little has changed!
“Then as the cloud passed I could see the ruins of the Abbey coming into view; and as the edge of a narrow band of light as sharp as a sword-cut moved along, the church and the churchyard became gradually visible. Whatever my expectation was, it was not disappointed, for there, on our favourite seat, the silver light of the moon struck a half-reclining figure, snowy white. The coming of the cloud was too quick for me to see much, for shadow shut down on light almost immediately; but it seemed to me as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell…” (extract from Dracula)
Adjacent to the quayside there is The Dracula Experience, a visitor attraction taking you on a trip into the darkness and through the Dracula story with actors and animated displays seeking to create an air of horror and terrify you.
There is also a themed ‘Dracula walk’ through the streets with the man in black, ‘storywalker’ Harry Collett, where you can walk and talk where Dracula once stalked!
And if you still want more, and want to dress the part…Whitby hosts regular twice yearly ‘Goth weekends’ in March and October with music and various ‘Goth’ activities.