Step Back in Time in Staithes
With its winding streets, alleys and jumbled cottages sloping steeply down to the sea, a visit to Staithes is like stepping back in time.
Despite decades of tourism and as a magnet for incomers, from 19th century artists to 21st century second homers, it has lost none of its authentic charm as it hunkers down beneath towering cliffs.
Staithes’ biggest claim to fame is its connection with the great explorer Captain James Cook. Cook came to the village in 1744 from Great Ayton as an apprentice to William Sanderson, a local grocer and draper, and it was here he had his first contact with the sea. At the Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre you will find the biggest rage of Cook memorabilia and antiques in the country. There is a re-creation of Sanderson’s grocer’s shop, with possibly the original window shutters, and a life-sized street scene as it would have been in Cook’s day. Other treasures include models, books, manuscripts, letters, porcelain and glassware plus maritime timepieces.
Staithes has always been a magnet for artists. In the late 19th Century it was home to an impressionist art colony known as the Staithes Group, whose work was inspired by the French impressionist painters. Among their numbers were Dame Laura Knight and her husband Harold, who had a studio in the village. Some of the work of these artists is now on display at that Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby.
Staithes celebrates its artistic and folk traditions from the 19th century to the present day with the annual Festival of Arts and Heritage (September 8th – 9th 2018). During that weekend, as many as 130 village cottages become temporary art galleries and craft shops in a unique selling exhibition.