Sun shines as Whitby Abbey celebrates Pentecost

with the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Whitby

The British summer seemed to have finally arrived today (Saturday 26 May 2012) as the stunning ruins of Whitby Abbey were bathed in sunlight for a special service, led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and the Bishop of Whitby, Dr Martin Warner, to celebrate Pentecost.

“As far as we are aware, this will be the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century that the Bishop of Whitby and the Archbishop of York have jointly hosted a service at Whitby Abbey, which stood as one of the North’s major centres of Christianity for around 700 years,” comments English Heritage’s area manager, Clea Warner. “It was superb to see a turnout of around 1000 to share this special occasion, and wonderful to hear the ruins reverberating with music for this celebration.”

Whitby Abbey is more commonly associated with Easter, as the date on which Easter falls was agreed by the Synod of Whitby in 664AD. Pentecost is often referred to as the ‘birthday’ of the modern Christian church, as it is the celebration of the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus’s disciples to spread the mission of the church.

“One of the hallmarks of the church is the way in which people work together and interact, each with his or her own part to play. With this service, we had a chance to celebrate our own contributions to the Church, and show how, together, they strengthen our Christian voice,” adds Dr Warner. “Whitby Abbey is of enormous importance to Christianity and the people of the Archdiocese, so we were delighted to have been invited here to celebrate together in this wonderful setting.”

The event had a distinctly 21st century influence, despite its historic setting, with the Holy Communion service featuring uplifting modern music, described by Archbishop Sentamu as “a joyous time”. The service also comes as a fitting highlight at the end of Bishop Martin’s tenure in the North East, as he will shortly take up the role of Bishop of Chichester.

For Whitby Abbey, this weekend’s service will be in clear contrast with the re-enactment events planned for the forthcoming Jubilee weekend (2-4 June 2012), which will feature Viking disrupting a Royal wedding in a thrilling day and evening event featuring hordes of marauding Vikings taking on the resident English nobility.

For more information, please visit or call 01947 603568.


Photographs: Please note that there is a link to a selection of hi-res photographs at the bottom of this email. If, for any reason you cannot follow the link, simply go to

Photographs taken by Kippa Matthews.

To download the highest resolution images, select the photograph that you require and choose the option ‘Download original size’.

For media information or further photographs taken at this event, please contact:

Jay Commins

PRO – English Heritage (Yorkshire)

Tel:         0113 251 5698