The bustling seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire is best known as the backdrop of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and its carved jet jewellery. However, away from the crowds is a hidden gem: the Museum, Library and Archive.
Reverend George Young and a group of leading Whitby residents founded the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society in 1823 with the principal mission to open a museum showcasing the fossils of the area. Since then the Society built a larger building in 1931, donated it to the town council, and acquired objects of a much broader and stranger nature then just fossils
The expanded museum contains a wide range of specimens including rather creepy antique toys and dolls, gold coins, some amazing taxidermy such as a stuffed stoat, to shipping and fishing lore. However the highlights of the collection are the “miscellaneous” bizarre items, such as a Glory Hand, supposedly cut off of a hung criminal and embalmed, the cabinets of curiosity known as the Ripley Cabinets, a collection of ships in bottles, and a model of the Tempest Prognosticator, a weather forecasting device employing leeches.
The Society also boasts a large library and archive containing numerous antiquarian volumes as well as many on local topography and history, for research as well as hosts monthly lectures for the community on a range of studious topics.
Above the town the picturesquely gloomy ruins of Whitby Abbey were Mina Harker’s favorite spot in town in the Dracula story.