The history of Whitby Abbey begins in the seventh century. Hilda, the foundress of the Abbey, was of noble birth, being the daughter of Hereric, a prince of the House of Northumberia, and wife Bereguswith.
Hilda was baptised by Bishop Paulinus of York. She was educated by the disciple Aiden, a Scottish bishop who adhered top the early teachings of the early English church.
At the Abbey at the same time as Hilda was Caedmon, a herdsman. Caedmon was the first English Poet.
St Hilda’s Church at Streonshalh was the Westminster Abbey of the north, in its greatest days when the north dominated in politics, religion and culture.
Whitby Abbey, under St Hilda, was a great seat of learning. The arts and sciences were so well established by her that after her death, Streonshalh was regarded as one of the best seminaries for learning.
Alcuin, the great philosopher and divine of his age, was born in Northumberland and educated in Yorkshire, principally at Whitby College. After founding the University of Paris, he advised Charles the Great, Emperor of France, to send his young noble men to this part of England, to learn a more polite, liberal and learned education than was to be had at that time in France.
When Cleveland was invaded and colonised by the Danes in 867AD, the Abbey at Whitby was destroyed and for 207 years lay desolate.
With the Norman Conquest and William the Bastard, came William de Percy the First, and under his protection, Regenfrith, a soldier monk, who with the help of his protector rebuilt the Abbey.
Whitby Abbey was suppressed in 1539AD by order of Henry VIII and was dismantled at the dissolution of the monasteries.