Painting of Whitby in 1717 hangs in town museum’s main hall

Today’s Item of the Week is a colorful painting of a place we all know – maybe you can spot some of the features, others are long gone.

This picturesque painting hanging in the main hall of the Whitby Museum is our item of the week.

At first glance, you might not notice that the painting is from Whitby – but take a closer look and it’s surprisingly accurate.

A former curator of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich once commented on how historically accurate the ships were.

The artist’s identity is unknown, but the painting is labeled “The Town of Whitby – October 28, 1717”.


There is a cutout on the back of the painting that describes the details of the painting.

It is believed that the excerpt comes from either the Whitby Gazette or the Whitby News around the middle of the 19th century, as it refers to the drawbridge, which was demolished in 1834/35 and is “in living memory”.

The detail describes the “main feature” on top of the sheet, the Abbey Tower “in the midst of various high, prickly pinnacles”.

A wall separating the ruins from the aircraft turns onto Scarborough Road.

Opposite the abbey’s north transept are two eye-catching houses, one of which is an inn or beer house with a protruding mark for a person’s head, and the capitals EC1717, which have long since disappeared.

The Cholmley’s hall with a series of stables extends along Almshouse Close with three small outbuildings – one of which is a gatehouse under which a henchman with an ax stands.

The excerpt adds: “The circumstances of this armed officer in his long green coat, large sleeves and wide hat, paired with the flag, which is depicted on a conspicuous part of the site, speak for whether the state and the entourage of the Cholmleys will be formally entertained in this quarter. ”

Next are the steps of the church, at the base of which the houses are described as “much more picturesque” than the ones they replaced. One of the largest has a protruding sign that says “The Cock” near a former home called “The Blue Monkey.”

The next feature is a drawbridge – “a very small wooden thing” for pedestrians only, which was probably demolished in 1766.

Next comes the shipping, “where the artist exhibits an old-fashioned fleet in full sail over the sheet”.

The northern echo:

The west side of the water, the section adds, is “densely populated by the lie of innumerable pointed roofs that limit the bottom of his (the artist’s) view, instead of our two stately lighthouses at the main pillar heads”.

The cut ends: “So far we have tried to get an impression of the view of Whitby in 1717 – impolite as I said before, but curious about what it reveals from the past when the top floors of houses opposite in the narrow streets They almost met over the heads of the passengers, and the unglazed shops with their hatched windows opened up as the front of a booth.

The northern echo:

“The colors are mainly red, blue and yellow. and the whole scene of the houses is pervaded by diamond lights or the ‘penny pane’, which leads us to say that a sash window was not known in Whitby until 1725; When it was inserted, both city and country viewed it as a child prodigy. ”

* Whitby Mesum in Pannet Park is currently closed during lockdown. More information can be found at

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