Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Living in the Shadows: Dracula's Presence in Whitby

Yesterday the England Field School went to the town of Whitby, home of the historic ruins Whitby Abbey. While the ruins were a nice historic site to see what fascinated me the most was how the town of Whitby has adapted overtime to become a huge tourist spot. The most interesting draw of tourism comes from the Bram Stoker novel Dracula and all of its subsequent movies.

Throughout Whitby there is no shortage of Dracula. While walking around I saw a business called the Dracula Experience and other stores selling Dracula paraphernalia. The town of Whitby is a brief location in the book and has been in at least one Dracula film so it makes sense that it is looked at as a business opportunity for locals. However I had mixed feelings about the use of historic sites selling Dracula's connection to Whitby as a form of business. Whitby Abbey's museum gift shop located in the Chlomley House sells many versions of Dracula and has things like stuffed bats. Even some of the family events put on by the abbey have to do with the book. Is it good museum practice to sell fiction? At first I was a little miffed at this but then I realized that without this book there would be an entire group of people who didn't even know about Whitby Abbey. By coming to this site they get to see the spot where Dracula came to shore, but they also have the opportunity to learn and question about life at an abbey. From our talks with museums professionals throughout this trip I realize that the last thing any one should be getting upset about is people visiting a historic site.

Despite my acceptance of Dracula's presence at Whitby Abbey, I know that not everyone feels the need to accept it at there institution. The one that stands out the most in my mind is the Church of St. Mary. When I went inside the Church of St. Mary I came across this sign:

(Photo Courtesy of Andrew Abeyounis)

For anyone who plans on coming to Whitby I say embrace the Dracula story and have fun, but also remember that there is so much else that the town has to offer. You can also check out stories of Captain Cook at the Captain Cook Miseum, visit the Jet Hertiage Center, and make sure to learn some of the actual history behind Whitby Abbey and the Church of St. Mary.

No comments:

Post a Comment