Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Gothic Enlightenment by Annika Perry

Welcome to the second post from the archives of Annika Perry who shares an atmospheric visit to Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire.

The purpose of this series is to encourage you to head over and follow Annika’s blog and check out her more recent posts.. I hope you will do so.

Gothic Enlightenment by Annika Perry

Self-consciously I traced my way around the grassy labyrinth. Glancing up I caught the eye of a fellow pilgrim and sheepishly we exchanged wry smiles as I wondered, “Does he think I look ridiculous? Do I?”. The answer was an emphatic no, as I took a deep breath and continued on my way.

Arriving earlier at Whitby Abbey the cement bunker where we bought our tickets had been gloomy and disappointing, however on walking around the corner and up we were transported in time as chanting Benedict monks beckoned us forward across the sunny plain. Clad in long sweeping brown or white habits, heads adorned with flat round hat, their presence brought alive the ethereal spirituality of centuries ago as with heavenly voice their hymns awed the visitors into silence.

Quietly a monk explained the concept of the Path to Paradise, a circular interloping path cut from the grass, a time for inner reflection and meditation. There was only one way round, leading to the centre and here upon the granite altar we were requested to place a blessed stone from his basket and with it make a wish or prayer.

Soon thoughts drift from myself to the abbey, looming ahead, bathed in sunlight, the gothic ruins vibrating with life. Time slows, my son runs on ahead, diligently following the path and I enter a new dimension of total serenity and I immersed myself in contemplation. Here views of the long harbour wall, tiny dots of people meandering along, their children scampering between the fallen pillars of the abbey, some clambering on them.


Shattered as a clear voice breaks through and a monk recites a story; there he is, sitting in the middle of the circle, surrounded by fellow pilgrims. Just then my son places his stone upon the granite rock and without a pause dashes away to find his friends.

The End

With only a week until our holiday in North Yorkshire I recalled this piece I wrote as my first assignment for a creative writing course. Gothic Enlightenment describes our fortuitous visit to Whitby Abbey during their Path to Paradise celebrations.

A good part of the business of fiction is performed half-consciously, even sub-consciously. So I’ll do a little scene and then another little scene and try not to think of the extent of the task ahead.” Hilary Mantel

©Images Annika Perry. 2015

Thanks to Annika for sharing this post about the Path to Paradise which seems to have acheived its aim of bringing stillness into that moment in time.

About Annika Perry

Although writing has always been a lifetime passion for Annika, her route to full-time writing has been circuitous and she formerly worked within journalism and the timber trade before severe illness and motherhood gave her an opportunity to pursue her dream.

Annika’s First Prize win in the ‘Writing Magazine’ short story competition was the much needed impetus and confidence booster for her to complete the first novel, ‘Island Girl’, which is currently in the final editing stages. Annika is also working on the last edits of her first short story collection which she hopes to publish this year.

As well as writing, Annika is an avid reader (a world without books is unimaginable for her), a keen gardener, walker and she enjoys travel (in spite of her well-documented fear of flying!)

For the past two years blogging has become an important part of her life and she deeply values the friendships formed here on WP via the warm encouraging and uplifting comments. She lives in the South East of England with her husband and teenage son.

Connect to Annika


I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.


89 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Gothic Enlightenment by Annika Perry

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Archives – Gothic Enlightenment by Annika Perry – The Militant Negro™

  2. I love this post. It reminds me of the first time I visited Whitby Abbey 40 years ago. I too found it a very enlightening place. It was also my first trip to England and I was so excited, maybe I was more like your son. There were no monks to greet us at that time, just so much history.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Absolutely!! 😀 I used to come here as a child with the family so it meant a lot to come here with my son and husband all these years later. Still magical and one of our favourite holiday destinations in the UK (also a great opportunity to meet up with my friends in the North!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this peaceful post. Like you, I LOVE the spirits of old places. It’s always so intriguing to encounter people who throw off the “real” world to live lives of contemplation.

    Also love the quote: “A good part of the business of fiction is performed half-consciously, even sub-consciously. So I’ll do a little scene and then another little scene and try not to think of the extent of the task ahead.” Hilary Mantel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrienne, these old abbeys all have a wonderful serene peaceful atmosphere – I always wander amongst them in quiet contemplation…One school trip was to a monastery situated on the remote edge of the moors in Yorkshire and beforehand we were rather underwhelmed with the prospective outing. Afterwards none of us wanted to leave…it was the most memorable school visit ever, the monks amazing, so generous with their time, so at peace with themselves, us, the world…I realised we had so much to learn. I digress…

      So glad you liked the quote…it seems the only way to write! 😀


      • No I don’t have family there. We first went down to a place called Easingwold in1983 and stayed in a Georgian vicarage there. We loved the area but then the folks running the b and b said they were selling up and it was going to be a private house again. As we found out about 15 years ago , that sale fell through and the vicarage kept running as a b and b. We have made up for a lot of lost time since. We love the whole area. So beautiful. These days when we go we tend to do a lot of walking. Some pub crawling too in York. But we went to Whitby one afternoon and the abbey was amazing.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks Annika for this really enjoyable article. Whitby Abbey has been on my must see list for about a hundred years (or at least since reading Dracula as a kid). You lovely article reminded me it’s about time I got it off my must see and got it on my have seen. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A beautiful post, Annika. Isn’t it amazing how time has no influence over the spirit of place? People of centuries ago experienced the serenity of Whitby Abbey and the blessing of the Path to Paradise, just as you did now. I’m always awestruck by the silver threads that weave together past, present, and future. Another wonderful experience shared with your son ~ and now, with us. Thank you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tina, I love your image of the silver thread weaving through time, connecting, holding together… often we forget the past and future so entrenched are we in the Now – visits to places like this Abbey is a welcome reminder of the past, a mystical feeling that stayed with us long after this walk.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Sally for posting Annika’ beautiful tale from Whitby Abbey. You do beautiful work for your fellow bloggers.
    Annika, thank you for refreshing this to me , very mystic, inspirational and beautiful post.
    I will go there again, it was ages ago. Just have to make sure the monks are there.😊 . It is amazing how their calm brings stillness among the visitors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miriam, thank you for your lovely comment. Sally is wonderfully supportive of all bloggers, writers, readers…I get exhausted just thinking about all the work and organisation involved!

      I do hope you get a chance to go to Whitby Abbey during this ceremony…it was so emotive and deeply spiritual…which I don’t think many of us had expected. Memorable and inspirational…the feelings live with me years later! A joy to share once again here! Wishing you a lovely Sunday. 😀❤️


    • Bernadette, I wanted to convey the highly unusual emotional reaction…it did feel like a moment of transcendence in the midst of the every day and everyone…the oddest sensation and the peace of the walk stayed with me (us) for the rest of the holiday!


  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – ABBA, Constantine The Great and Brown Rice! | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

    • Sue, I know…that’s a lot of steps!! I remember moaning about them when I was little and on our first visit here when my son was young he started off with great excitement… so keen but then became exhausted and had to be carried a while. The Whale bones are incredible – such a defining structure in the town..thank you for your lovely comment and it’s lovely to share our memories of Whitby! 😀❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is.. And as we get that little bit older those steps, are not so exciting any more LOL.. But I love the Shambles and all those little trinket shops and the Whitby Jet. I have a small cross made of it, No the thanks go to you, for bringing back the memories 🙂 Enjoy your week .. Sue

        Liked by 2 people

  8. What a nice idea, Sally. I really should give myself a shake and see if I can’t come up with something a tad creative. I love the quote you use. And I’m a fan of Annika’s writing. And I can picture that scene at Whitby Abbey- a place I’ve visited too. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for your very kind comment, Jo and so glad I managed to capture Whitby Abbey…Have you ever written a post about a walk there? I’d love to read it! Also I hope you find some archive posts to share for next round…Thanks for liking the quote as well; I do feel her words give me permission to write freely without stressing too much about planning…so often my stories have taken me in surprising and unexpected directions! Hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.