Ghosts of Haunted England – Whitby Abbey
By Tony Spera
Visit # 1
The drive to Whitby was one that held much excitement for me, as it was the location chosen by Bram Stoker for his Vampire novel, Dracula. I had taken over driving tasks from Ed, since up to this point Ed had been doing all of the driving and had appeared to be getting a little weary. I must admit it took awhile to get used to driving on the left side of the road while sitting behind a wheel that was on the right side of the vehicle. The real trick however was maneuvering through roundabouts – rotaries that connected multiple roadways and re-routed traffic to various other roads and highways. By the second roundabout I secretly wished I’d taken Skip Barber’s advanced racing course. I remember coming over this rise, the winding road replete with hairpin turns and drop-offs which kept my concentration at a peak, when out of nowhere, looming in the distance, I could see the ruins of Whitby Abbey! It’s hard to describe the feeling one gets upon first witnessing something so ominous, so old, and so beautiful. The Abbey had actually been founded in approximately 657 AD on land given by Oswy King of Northumbria in thanks for his victory over King Penda of Mercia. It had been a double monastery, having housed both men and women. It was destroyed by the Danes, but rebuilt by the Normans after the Conquest in the thirteenth century.
I felt a shiver travel up the back of my neck as we came closer to the wondrous towering ruins. My stomach was doing flip-flops as I put the car in park and shut off the engine. I think it was a combination of nervous anticipation and the greasy fish & chips lunch I had just consumed. Judy was busy loading film into her camera. Lorraine was rummaging through her handbag for some digestives ( cookies). Ed was fiddling with his tape recorder, (he seemed to always be fiddling with his recorder). As for me, I just stood there, awestruck by the sight of the massive Abbey ruins. I wondered about the traditions that had been born there, about the people who died there, and of the many stories that are now lost to history. My thoughts were interrupted by Ed Warren who was yelling that he had to visit the men room. I think I yelled something back like “Now THAT’S more information than I needed to know” and began walking closer still to the ruins. Judy approached me and began snapping pictures. Lorraine also came up to me and said something about the magnificence of it all. Ed returned from the men room and explained to me that a lot of spirit phenomena had been witnessed at Whitby Abbey, by himself and by many others. We stayed for about an hour when suddenly Ed said, Ok, let’s go! Go ? I thought. We just got here! We’re leaving now ! Ed proclaimed. We’ll come back tonight, after the witching hour! Witching hour? I asked feebly. Yeah.
After 12:00 midnight. That’s the best time to witness and photograph ghostly phenomena! We all jumped back into the rental car, and headed down the road towards Robin Hood’s bay. My first visit to Whitby Abbey was an uneventful one. Little did I know what I would be in store for later that night !
Visit # 2 ( After Midnight, May 1981 )
We had found a little pub to eat in near Robin Hood’s bay. Judy ordered Fish & chips. Ed ordered steak & kidney pie. Lorraine ordered a scone with tea. I ordered Lasagna. ( It didn’t resemble any Lasagna I had ever seen . . . it tasted like nothing I had ever tasted. I washed it down with a warm bitter beer. Then it was off to Whitby Abbey again – this time my stomach was doing double flip-flops. We arrived at approximately 12:30 A.M., and I must tell you it looked even more magnificent, more ominous than it had in the daylight. No one was there. No caretakers, no tourists, (except for the four of us)- no police. The only sound was the whipping wind that blew in from the North Sea. I was excited, anxious, apprehensive. I was . . . well . . . cold! I began by setting up my 35mm camera on a tripod, while Judy and Lorraine walked around to the east side of the ruins. Ed Warren was fiddling with a tape recorder. What happened to me next is beyond comprehension. I remember feeling this great sense of doom or dread (much like the feeling I had at Borley Church, only much more intense.) I had a distinct sense that something was right behind me. I turned suddenly and there was this thing . . . I can only describe it as a cyclone of wind blacker than black. It was pulsating and spinning but made no sound. I knew it was evil itself!
Immediately I began to feel weak in the knees. It sounds totally incredible I know, but I swear this thing was trying to get me! I was able to issue a sound, more like a high pitched squeal than a sentence. I was trying to say to it . . . Get back, get outta here! I don’t know how Ed heard me because he can’t hear very well (from his World War II Navy gunner days) but he came running towards me and this thing. He was yelling “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave and go back to where you came from”! He was throwing some kind of liquid at it. (I found out later that it was holy water). He kept commanding it to leave. At first it just backed off a little bit. But then it faded away into nothing. I was down on both knees at this point. Ed grabbed me and pulled me up a little bit. Are you alright, kid? He said, genuinely concerned. I don’t remember much after that. My head was spinning and I felt like I’d pass out at any moment. I know that I sat in the car for a long time, shivering. Judy and Lorraine came up to me, both expressing concern. I really felt helpless let me tell you. It’s one thing to go up against another human being. I used to have to do it all the time. (I was a police officer).
It was quite another thing however to go up against something preternatural. Something so totally evil in nature! After tangling with this thing, wrestling some drunk in a bar would seem like a day at the beach! That night, after returning to our B& B (Bread & Breakfast hotel ) I stayed awake a very long time contemplating what had happened to me. I wondered why it was happening to ME and to no one else at the time. I was the strong one, (or so I thought). But then it struck me that this thing, (evil) came to me on purpose. To show me that no one is strong next to it. That no one can challenge evil and win without God’s help, which Ed had called upon. Ed had told me many times since this incident never to underestimate the power of Evil to confuse! I said the rosary that night, with more intensity and conviction than I had ever done before. And suddenly I realized that with God’s love and guidance I‘d be able to face whatever might be in store for me tomorrow . . . even warm beer and bad Lasagna!