courtesy Detlef thomas via wikipedia
courtesy Graham Proud via wikipedia
Queen Victoria took mourning to a whole new level with the death of her beloved Albert. Social occasions were cancelled at court and hushed voices became the norm. Laughter was banned and the nation became very black and gloomy. Black cloth was the order of the day, something that won the Queen few friends in the textile industry. However, one little fishing village, Whitby, in north Yorkshire, rich in jet flourished. It is found in Whitby estuary and for several miles along the coast. It became a rare beneficiary of the court mourning, where no coloured jewels were permitted. Queen Victoria, however, was known to wear a glistening jet tiara from time to time.
Queen Victoria with 5 of her children in mourning
Jet is a geological material and considered to be a minor gemstone. It comes from the fossilised trunk of the Monkey Puzzle tree formed during the Jurassic age. Many people imagine that it is a derivative of coal, which too is fossilised wood. However, coal was formed during the Carboniferous age. The jet found in Whitby is approximately 182 million years old. Why is it that there is Jet in Whitby?
During the mid-Jurassic period the British Isles was located further south in the latitude of Northern Spain and Portugal. It was, therefore, nearer the equator and had a climate to match. The dominant species of tree was the Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle tree), and very similar to the ones we see today.
Monkey Puzzle tree - Araucaria under snow in Kew Garden via wikipedia
A few more gems from Whitby; Wonderful fish; Captain Cook learnt his sailing craft in Whitby and set off on many of his famed voyages of discovery in Endeavour, his Whitby flat bottomed ship; Whitby Abbey founded in 656 by Oswy, the Christian King of Northumbria; Bram Stoker set part of his book, Dracula, in Whitby, describing Dracula's arrival on the Russian ship, Demeter, which was shipwrecked, and washed ashore in the harbour.
courtesy J3Mrs via wikipediaYou can see the Abbey ruins behind the church, and if you click on the photo it is possible to see the famous 199 steps where Dracula ran up to the graveyard, in the shape of a black dog.