Founded in 687 AD by Oswy as Streanshalh (King of Northumbria) Whitby Abbey was a double monestary of monks and nuns. In 664 AD, the Abbey hosted the Synod which brought reconciliation between the Celtic church and Rome, but in 867 it was attacked by Vikings and lay empty until refounded in Norman times.
Not surprisingly, Henry VIII was the final straw with his policy of dissolving monestaries and in 1540, it was destroyed.
The remnants are preserved by English Heritage and the site can still be visited. It makes a dramatic sight standing proudly atop the East Cliff, high above the town. Bram Stoker certainly thought so, because it was after watching the carrying of a coffin up the 199 steps to the Abbey that he had the idea for writing his most famous novel, Dracula.