A Wander through Whitby!
Today is a double publication day for fellow Choc Lit author, Kirsty Ferry! The Girl in the Painting is out in paperback and The Girl in the Photograph is out on all eBook platforms.
I am delighted that Kirsty has chosen today to visit my blog. To celebrate, Kirsty is taking us for a wander through Whitby – a very important location in her books. Are you ready to go? It’s over to you, Kirsty …
My Rossetti Mysteries series has its heart in Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast. Some Veil Did Fall is largely set there, the town welcomes Cori and Simon in The Girl in the Painting, and is located only a few miles away from Staithes, where The Girl in the Photograph is set. But the heroine of The Girl in the Photograph, Lissy, keeps going back to Whitby – whether it is to torment her brother and sister-in-law, or to ‘hide’ from Stefano, her ex-boyfriend in the Abbey grounds. And I use the term ‘hide’ rather loosely! Whitby is famous, of course, for its Abbey and its connection to Dracula and Bram Stoker, but just in case you want to know more about the town itself, I’m going to mention some of the things that you might just want to keep an eye out for if you ever go!
The Whalebone Arch
In the newer part of the town, a huge arch made of whalebones stands sentinel. There has been an arch there since 1853, celebrating the important role of Whitby in the whaling industry – so an arch would have been standing there in 1865, when Ella and Lydia were wandering around the town looking for fabric for Ella’s wedding dress in Some Veil Did Fall.
St Mary’s Church
Once you’ve crawled on your hands and knees up the 199 steps (or is that just me?) you’ll come to St Mary’s Church. It stands on the east cliff, in the shadow of the Abbey, overlooking the River Esk estuary. The picture I have here is from the BBC – unfortunately, a landslip happened very close to the church which must have been rather nasty, as you can see. The churchyard was used as a setting in Dracula (and in Some Veil Did Fall, Ella and Adam were married there), and when I visited on a night-time during Goth Weekend, there were various people strolling around the graveyard, promenading beneath black parasols, swathed in frock coats and lace. A little shiver did run up my spine as I wondered exactly how many of these shadowy figures were indeed corporeal beings and how many weren’t …
Ebor Jet Workshop
Truly a gem within those cobbled streets. It’s an extremely quirky jet workshop, based in a converted house, complete with Victorian fireplace, intriguing staircase and two figures dressed in Victorian mourning gowns by the fireplace. It’s got much more character, in my opinion, than the sparkly, more commercial jewellers, and that’s why I got my jet locket there. You can also see the craftspeople working on the jet and watch how the jewellery takes shape. Whitby is famous for jet – it was the heart of mourning jewellery in the Victorian times and has a strange, Gothic fascination all of its own. Not bad for a precious stone that started off as a fossilized monkey puzzle tree. The workshop – or something very similar – has cropped up in a new novella I have written. So you may see it, sort of, between the pages at some point in the future!
The Pannett Art Gallery and Whitby Museum
A wee bit off the beaten track, but so much worth a visit! I literally do not know how they cram so much stuff into that place. The Pannett Gallery and Museum is a short walk uphill from the city centre, situated in a beautiful park. But I would strongly recommend making the trek if you can. The Gallery has a permanent exhibition of artwork from the Staithes Group of artists, a group who are integral to The Girl in the Photograph. This group of artists existed in the late nineteenth century and took their inspiration from the French Impressionists. They captured the day-to-day life of the people of Staithes and their work is wonderful. There is a fascinating display of jet in the museum, and don’t miss the Hand of Glory – a dried and pickled hand of a criminal, turned into a candlestick holder!
Number 6, Royal Crescent
I stumbled across this by accident on one of my visits to Whitby, and was so excited when I realised what it was. A plaque on the wall of this stunning townhouse proclaims that Bram Stoker stayed at the guesthouse between 1890 and 1896. He must have liked it so much, he came back over the period of a few years. The guesthouse was run by Mrs. Emma Veazey, and Bram’s wife and son joined him there for a three week holiday. Three ladies from Hertford, Isabel and Marjorie Smith and their friend Miss Stokes, stayed there at the same time, and it has been suggested that Bram based the characters of Lucy, Mina and Mrs Westenra on these three ladies.
The Whitby Bookshop
Last but not least (because this is a short piece!) is the Whitby Bookshop, on the glorious little street of Church Street. This gorgeous, independent bookshop is crammed with books and stationery, including an upper floor which is reached by an awesome spiral staircase. This bookshop is where I did a book signing on Goth Weekend, dressed as a recently undead Vampire’s victim. Great fun. So if you’re in the vicinity, please do pop in – you might just see one of my books on the shelf.
To buy The Girl in the Painting click HERE
To buy The Girl in the Photograph click HERE
For more information on Kirsty Ferry, follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry