Likened to an old mariner gazing out to sea, St Stephen's stands majestically on the hillside between Whitby and Ravenscar, overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay. Built in 1821, its appearance can be severe but the church resonates with the history of a resilient North Sea fishing community.
Inside, painted box pews, a full-length gallery and a three-decker pulpit, designed for the preaching of the Word, have all survived. The sea is a recurring theme throughout and there are memorials to the shipwrecked in both the church and churchyard.
Successful lifeboat rescue missions are listed and there is also a touching display of rare maiden’s garlands’ – 'crowns’ used in the funeral processions of young - and chaste - women.
Outside, windswpet gravestones huddle tightly round the church walls. Some recall tragedies: strangers who drowned on the coast or locals whose lives were cruelly claimed by the sea.
This church is listed as 'Keyholder nearby', this means that the key is kept by a 'keyholders', who usually lives just a short walk from the church and can give visitors the key; sometimes this is a nearby hotel, pub, library, art gallery or other venue. You will find instructions explaining how to get the key when you arrive at the church.