The graveyard at the famous “Dracula Church,” which inspired Bram Stoker, is crumbling down the side of a cliff. Heavy rains caused the landslide that washed human remains down the cliff and into a nearby village.
The historic St. Mary’s Church in Whitby, England, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel Dracula. The oldest sections of the church date back to around 1110. Although there has never been a full restoration of the structure, there have been extensions and modifications through the years.
The cemetery was officially closed in 1865, but people continued to travel to the area due to the popularity of Stoker’s book and subsequent movies. In 2011 tourists were completely banned from entering or photographing the churchyard cemetery.
The Daily Mail recounts Stoker’s decision to use the Church in the setting for his novel:
“As Bram Stoker sat at his desk overlooking the seaside town of Whitby Bay in 1890 he noticed the huge number of bats flying around St Mary’s Church. Perched on top of a cliff St Mary’s, with its rows upon rows of tombstones, looked out onto the stormy North Sea.”
In the novel, Dracula has shipwrecked off the coast of Yorkshire. He then proceeds to come ashore and terrorize the inhabitants of the town. It is believed that the actual character of Dracula was based on “Prince Vlad the Impaler” of Transylvania, Romania.
As reported by Legacy Matters, residents of Whitby are concerned that as the area is hit with more rain, the mudslides will continue washing debris, including human remains, down the side of the cliff. The initial damage is being blamed in a drainage pipe that was compromised when rainfall saturated ground and it failed to support the pipe.
Authorities have collected the remains that washed down the cliff and they have been returned to the cemetery.
A tourist captured the historical “Dracula Church” and cemetery on video, offering a virtual tour: