THE historic church of St Mary's (right), which
overlooks Whitby harbour, faces a repair bill approaching £40,000,
after heavy rain caused a landslip in its cliff-top graveyard.
But, thanks to Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, which
contains a scene set in the churchyard, the story brought offers of
help from around the world. "The story got blown out of all
proportion," the Team Rector, Canon David Smith, said. "The line
'Dracula's graveyard' sent it viral.
"I had a call from Singapore, from someone offering to raise
money because they thought the church was going over the edge.
We'll hang on to that one, just in case. But the church is built on
rock; so it will always survive - although we might have to end up
using bridges to get to it. The tower is the closest to the slip;
it's now about 30 yard from the edge."
Funds that had been earmarked for the restoration of the Grade I
listed church, which dates from the 12th century, will now have to
be diverted towards remedial work on the cliff edge. "We are
waiting to hear from our insurers, Ecclesiastical," Canon Smith
said; "but we won't get it all from them."
The cliff, which also supports the ruins of Whitby Abbey, is
unstable. Ten years ago, 200,000 tonnes slipped on the seaward
side. "This time it was not as bad, but it threatened houses,"
Canon Smith said.
He blamed the slip on a broken drainage pipe. "There has been so
much water over the last six or seven months, everything just got
saturated, and it's moved some of the earth. We are trying to
stabilise the top . . . We are also netting the cliff."
The slip exposed a small quantity of bones from the graveyard,
which was closed in 1865. They will be reburied close to the