Old St. Stephen’s Church, Robin Hood’s Bay

Old St. Stephen’s Church, Robin Hood’s Bay: YO22 4PF • Map ref: NZ942059

from a picture by Whitby artist John Freeman

Old Church

History  There has been a church on this site for a thousand years.


To enter the church is to step back in time to the post-Napoleonic, pre-Victorian world of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy.  

The interior has not been altered since it was built in 1822 and features a 3-decker pulpit, box pews and four mid-19th Century Maidens’ Garlands. Brightly coloured when they were paraded at the girls’ funerals, their faded ribbons form a Miss Havisham-like legacy from days gone by.

Outside, the churchyard is a treasure trove of local history. Inscriptions on the gravestones tell of the lives and deaths of master mariners, farmers and myriad local families over the last 200 years.  

Several streets and cottages in Robin Hood's Bay are named after people buried here, e.g. Olsen Cottage, Tommy Baxter Street and Jim Bell’s Stile.  

Many stones were raised to those who were lost at sea and never came home from places as far flung as the Baltic or Rio de Janeiro.

Maidens Garlands