July 29 – Piratemania Flash Mob in Whitby

Pickering Church

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today there was a geocaching Flash Mob out at the end of the harbour wall in Whitby. It was a good drive out although it is not a particularly nice day it was not actually raining at this stage. As we were making such an early start we did not think the car parks near the harbour would be full and took the risk of driving in instead of using the park and ride. We were right and soon parked, paid the metre for two hours and walked the 700 metres to the end of the harbour. At this stage, it was raining and when we arrived at 10 there was a large group of happy though wet and windblown pirates to sign the log. It didn’t dampen our spirits though and we all Ahrrrr ed and Ahrrrr ed as part of our flash mob. A hearty thanks again to all the organisers who made the Piratemania a great event.

We then walked around the town looking for geocaches somewhat half-heartedly. Mike bought a stick of Whitney Rock – Well you have to don’t you? We also found a great games shop called “Just Games”. It was great with all the traditional games of Monopoly and Scrabble but also a great range of the newer more exciting games which we like, like Ticket to Ride, Alhambra and Pandemic. They even had Dominion Big Box at a really good price as they have a sale on but we are in the wrong country to be buying something so bulky. Great to look through!! We did one earth cache at the War Memorial which was a lovely piece of green-veined rock called Masi Quartzite. It was very beautiful with various shades of apple green, greys and cream in the rock and comes from Norway.

After we had had a good look around the village on both sides of the harbour, we went drove up to the Whitby Abbey for a short but sweet visit as it was pouring down. We were wet through and it was cold. Roll on summer again. LOL Whitby Abbey is an English Heritage property and we waited for quite a while as the German gentleman in front of us was trying to decide whether to join English Heritage. I suggested that they only have to visit Dover Castle and Stonehenge and they have paid for their yearly ticket. He did decide to buy it but the lady still took ages to make the transaction. In the meantime, we were just getting colder and wetter. When we finally gained entry we took the headset to listen to the history of the building. However, the conditions were making things very difficult as it was not only very wet but also icy cold with the wind factor. We had a look around the ruins and then went into the building which holds the museum where we dried off a bit. Finally, we decided to go back to the Airbnb to change into dry clothes. When we opened the door, the alarm went off and Sue had not given us a fob for the alarm as she didn’t expect us to return to the house while they were out. We didn’t either! We closed the door again and returned to the car while I rang Sue and she told how we could safely get into the house. We felt very conspicuous with the alarm wailing but it certainly did not make the neighbours come running.

We had a shower each and changed into dry clothes then went into Pickering. By now the rain had stopped and we went to visit St Peter and St Paul church. What an amazing church this was with one of the most complete sets of wall paintings in Britain the following decade. The wall paintings were commissioned in 1450 and painted in the following decade. However, they were completely covered during the Reformation and were not rediscovered until a period of renovation in 1852, they were subsequently covered again. During further renovations in 1876, the wall paintings were restored to their former glory. In the Middle Ages, nearly all churches were partially painted inside as the paintings were an aid to worship and allowed the illiterate congregations to understand religious stories. Wall Paintings have been known as the Poor Man’s Bible.

As you walk into the church St George slaying the dragon is in front of you with St Christopher carrying the Christ child beside him. Next is the beheading of St John the Baptist and above it is the Coronation of the Virgin Mary. Next is the Martyrdom of St Edmund and above that the Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket. Opposite St Edmund on the south wall is a depiction of the legend of St Catherine who became the patron saint of women, virgins, philosophers and students. Next are the seven Corporal Acts of Mercy, followed by the Passion and the Crucifixion of Christ. Finally the Descent into Hell and Christ’s Resurrection. These wall paintings are truly spectacular and the colour and design outshine anything we have seen before. What amazes me that after being covered in two lots of whitewash that they were able to be restored so entirely when many others in other churches are very pale and indistinct. We brought the book about the paintings in St Peter and St Paul and also another about wall paintings generally and look forward to seeing many more.

There was a choir practice on while we were there so we were very aware of being very quiet and not distract the choir so we returned the following day to see the rest of the church.