In Bram Stoker’s imagination, the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church in the Yorkshire town of Whitby was the perfect place for Dracula to do a bit of moonlight munching on the neck of the beautiful Lucy Westenra. In the 1897 novel, Lucy’s friend Mina Murray sees Lucy reclining near the picturesque seaside church with “something dark” bending over her. “What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell,” Mina, Dracula‘s protagonist, says of the encounter.
The macabre reputation ofSt. Mary was burnished this week by a landslide, which opened up some of the graves in the clifftop cemetery and sent debris and human bones showering down on the town below. The bones have been rounded up and reinterred, but the incident has left some residents shaken. “Dracula is fantasy, but this is reality and it has given us sleepless nights,” Barry Brown, a partner in local 130-year-old fish smoking company Fortune’s Kippers told the Mirror. “You see things moving all the time. The next dollop of heavy rain the whole cliff could collapse.”
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The church has reassured residents that no one has been buried in the cemetery since 1965, “so if any graves are exposed it’s only bones,” reports the Guardian.
The landslide is thought to have been caused by a leaky drainpipe, which further weakened the already-fragile cliff face. Local officials have emphasized that the 900-year-old church itself is not at risk because it was built on bedrock, reports the Whitby Gazette.
This is not the first time difficulties have hit the so-called “Dracula Church.” Last year, it banned Goths from posing for pictures on the tombs during the Whitby Goth Weekend, a festival that attracts thousands of brooding young people each fall, reports the Telegraph. The warden of the church recently spurned a request to shoot a new vampire film on the site. “We don’t like anything to do with Dracula linked with the churchyard,” John Hemson told the Whitby Gazette today. “It’s sacred. It’s just ridiculous, it’s what the author Bram Stoker saw when he was staying in the hotel on the other side of the river. We always get people asking us where Dracula’s grave is.”
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