A poem by Ally Schofield
The abbey projects a statement of old
Up on the cliff so valiant and bold
To stand there fearless through struggles and all
Watching gazing minds as they enthral
Advertising strength: communicating determination
Tranquillity for, contemplation
Overlooking the sea, it knows not of her rage
And though a ruin, it’s mighty proud of its age
Once home to St Hilda, many troubles has it seen
It holds its stance among the lush grass green,
Weathered and tired, each stone has its own story to tell
Of the storms it has stood above the ocean swell
Still Whitby’s heartland, still upright and proud
Still there to attract an almighty crowd
A lesson of endurance from the Abbey: take stock
It boasts the biggest victory for it beat Nature’s clock.
Note on St Hilda
640s AD Hilda was invited to establish a small band of women under monastic rule in Whitby. Hilda learned the traditions of Celtic monasticism taught by St Aidan from the Iona Community, from the west coast of Scotland. These included purity, justice, devotion, peace and love. Aidan would visit and advise her on a regular basis.
The contemporary Historian from Jarrow, Bede, was complimentary about Hilda’s skills as an abbess. Her wisdom was known around the whole country, and her opinion and advice were sought out by Kings and powerful figures. Bede wrote ‘No one there was rich or poor, for everything was held in common and none possessed any personal property’.