A Carpark with a View

Those of you who follow Jonathan Jarrett’s blog, A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe, will know that he just published a fascinating post about Whitby Abbey, a fine 13th century structure in Northern England. (And those of you who don’t, you’re missing out on something, so why not go and have a look?). Anyway, Jonathan begins his post with a full view of the abbey in all its ruinous glory from an angle like this:

Whitby Abbey, presumably from the carpark (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

What struck me about this is the fact that Jonathan’s image caption reads: “Skyline showing the ruins of Whitby Abbey from the carpark” (emphasis added). This reminded me of Jedburgh Abbey, a Romanesque building in the Scottish Borders in a similarly ruinous state, where the view you get from the carpark looks like this:

Jedburgh Abbey from the carpark

And I swear I once witnessed a coach stopping at said carpark, a coach-load of tourists getting out of it, taking out their cameras, taking a photo of the abbey from the carpark, getting back on the coach and leaving, all within the course of less than five minutes. And I remember thinking: 1) Wow, this kind of thing isn’t just an urban legend, it really happens, 2) how convenient that you can get such a good view directly from the carpark.

Now, looking at Jonathan’s photo from Whitby, I realise I may have been naive. Could it be that those are panoramic carparks whose location was actually chosen with the needs of photo-hungry visitors in mind?

Ok, that’s all I have to say for today, but here’s another nice pic from Jedburgh:

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4 Responses to A Carpark with a View

  1. Thankyou for the advert :-) At least in the case of Whitby, one has to climb up to the abbey side of the car-park first to get those photographs, so I don’t think it was placed for its view. It lies below an admissions booth and toilet complex that is itself positioned built into the hill that falls between the abbey and the car-park, so that it, and in fact the car-park, cannot be seen from the abbey site with any ease. But what this all tells you is that the abbey is on top of a big rise. I think it would look panoramic from the car-park wherever you put it, because it would have to be downhill from the site! But they have done their best to prevent the car-park spoiling one’s experience of the abbey.

    • Oh, thanks for the clarification! Turns out I may have been wrong on the internet, shame on me…
      But you know, ever since I first encountered the concept of “coffee in the crypt” there’s nothing I wouldn’t put past the British heritage industry, so panoramic carparks seemed like the logical next step ;-)

  2. highlyeccentric says:

    I was on a tour at the International Arthurian Society which pulled up outside Glastonbury Abbey, took photographs of the Tor, and then went away again. We were supposed to have climbed up it, but we ran out of time…

    • Point taken! But may I add that those tourists I saw at Jedburgh were Japanese, and while they may have been the Kyoto Society for the Appreciation of the European Middle Ages running behind schedule, they really looked 100% like the stereotypical exponents of Japanese mass tourism, so I’m going to stick to the original version of my story anyway ;-)

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