Site is open to the public. Opening may be limited, please check Visitor Information for any restrictions.


Brief description of site

The site occupies a steep south and south-west facing hillside with Pannett Art Gallery and Whitby Museum occupying the higher ground. Generally steep paths and stepped paths throughout the park provide links to the town and lower ground. A path illuminated from dusk to dawn and with a gradient of 1:12 crosses the park downhill from St. Hilda's Terrace to Chubb Hill. The park is dominated by mature trees, many of which are evergreen varieties contrasting with the fine stone and brick town houses around its boundary. The park can be divided into a number of character areas including woodland and wild flower banks and small feature gardens.

Brief history of site

Alderman R E Pannett, who died in 1920, made provision in his will for a park and art gallery for the people of Whitby. Mr Walter Brydon was appointed to design and supervise the building of the park. Much of his work survives. The park, art gallery and museum were handed over to the Council in 1932. During the closing decades of the 20th century the park suffered badly from cuts in funding and staffing. In 2005 the newly-established Friends of Pannett Park set about restoration in collaboration with the town and borough councils.

Location information:

Address: Pannett Park, Whitby, N.Yorks., YO21 1RE

Locality: Whitby

Local Authorities:

North Yorkshire; Scarborough; Whitby West Cliff

Historical County: North Riding of Yorkshire

OS Landranger Map Sheet Number: 94 Grid Ref: NZ894108
Latitude: 54.4847 Longitude: -0.621575


Pannett Park is on the west side of Whitby, a short walk from the town centre and bus and train stations.

Visitor facilities

Opening contact details:

This is a municipal park, open daily from dawn till dusk.

Visitor information:

Whitby Museum and Pannett Art Gallery, tea room with toilets, guided walks, printable route avoiding steep slopes and steps. Bike racks at main entrance. Leaflets available from the museum: Pannett Park, Jurassic Garden, Turtle Trail (a fun treasure hunt for children), and printable maths trail from website. Car park on Whitby's west cliff. There is a bylaw prohibiting dogs in the park.

Key information:

Form of site: public park

Purpose of site: urban park

Context or principal building: parks, gardens and urban spaces

Site first created: 1928 to 1935

Main period of development: Early 20th century

Survival: Extant

Site Size (Hectares): 3.36


Following the park's restoration in 2010 the planting continues to be reviewed regularly. The style reflects that of the 1930s. Features include mixed herbaceous borders after Gertrude Jekyll, feature rockeries and a formal rose garden. Rosa Albertine, R. Alberic Barbier and R. Rambling Rector cover pergolas. Shrub borders are planted with native berrying shrubs which provide food and shelter for wildlife, and wild flowers grow on the bank sides. Autumn and winter colour can be found in the stems of cornus, rubus, the bark of Prunus serrula (cherry), Betula (silver birch), Planatus x acerifolia (London Plane) and in the foliage of acers and Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven).

There are many specimen trees of interest throughout the park including Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle tree), Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree), Pyrus domestica (pear) which pre-date the park and Quercus petraea (sessile oak).

The Jurassic Garden is planted with ferns, palms and specimen trees such as Ginkgo biloba and Pinus nigra Austriaca (Austrian pine). The planting in the South Seas Garden reflects that of the southern hemisphere with phormium, hebe and olearia. Stone turtles swim through a sea of crocus and hyacinth in spring.

Owner: Whitby Town Council

The Museum, Pannett Park, Whitby

Principal building:

art gallery Created 1928 to 2004

The art gallery occupies the southern front. A porticoed entrance overlooks stepped terraces and rose beds. The Museum is built behind and is in part a three storey building making use of the slope of the site. The original entrance on the north front is now the accessible entrance. Construction is of brick. A pitched roof covers the whole.


Terrain: The site occupies a steep-sided hill rising from approximately 14m O.D. in the south of the site and 25m O.D. in the east and west, to 39m O.D. in the north

Underlying geology: The underlying geology comprises alternate layers of sandstone and Carboniferous shale. This is overlain with glacial deposits consisting mainly of boulder clay.

External web site link:


The idea of a park on this site was first promoted in 1837 when powers to buy land for it and for a new road linking the lower and upper parts of the town were included in a Local Act of Parliament. However, other projects took precedence and the land continued in use as market gardens, orchards and meadow. To mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, the road (now Chubb Hill Road) was built but the rest of the land remained in private ownership. In 1902 Alderman R E Pannett, a generous benefactor to Whitby, bought it intending to donate it to the Council for a park. Having failed to gain their co-operation, the Alderman, by now in his eighties, determined that it should nevertheless be done. Under his will he set up a Trust to use the land and other resources which he bequeathed to make the park and build an art gallery for his treasures, all of which he which he left to the people of Whitby. He died in 1920. A former garden next to the park, known as Little Park, was given by one of the trustees. In the difficult financial climate of the 1920s progress was slow but in 1932 the park, the art gallery and a museum, which had been built on to it, were handed over to the Council and the Trust was wound up. The museum houses the collections of the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society (WLPS). It has since been extended.

Mr Walter Brydon was appointed to design and supervise the building of the park. Much of his work survives. He made use of the orchard trees; two pears still flourish today. Rockeries were an important feature on the steeper slopes. The park lacks a natural water supply but with the help of a generous donation from a local family, a lily pool with a shelter beside it, was made the focus of a more formal seating area. Others gave plants and benches. Herbaceous beds and a profusion of roses were noted features. The last (north-west) corner of the park was completed with the opening of a new, gated entrance in 1935. The park keeper lived in an old cottage in the park (since demolished) and had a team working with him. As constraints on staffing began to tell after World War 2 it became more difficult to maintain the floral content of the park.

In 1974 Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) took over most of the duties of the Urban District Council but Whitby Town Council (WTC) retained ownership of the park and the buildings. During the closing decades of the 20th century the park suffered badly from cuts in funding and staffing. In 2005 the newly-established Friends of Pannett Park set about restoration with the co-operation of SBC and WTC. Working parties tackled the borders and a defunct floral clock was restored.

An application to the Heritage Lottery fund was successful and in 2009 work started on the refurbishment of the park and the introduction of new features including a state of the art children's play area, a Jurassic Garden reflecting the important geological collections in the Museum, and a Commemorative Garden.

Site timeline

1902: Alderman R E Pannett bought the site.

1920: Alderman Pannett died. Under his will a Trust was formed to use the land and other assets to build a park and art gallery

1928: The park and art gallery were opened, though the park was unfinished. A museum to house the collections of the Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society (WLPS) was added to the art gallery.

1932 to 2012: The Trust was wound up and park and buildings handed over to the Urban District Council (WUDC). The joint management of the buildings by the WTC & WLPS was established by agreement in the High Court in 1948.

1953 to 2004: Three extensions to the museum were built.

1953: A floral clock was installed to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

After 1974: Whitby Town Council (WTC) retained the park and the buildings when Scarborough BC took over from the WUDC. SBC managed the park on a 10 yr lease. Due to cuts in budgets several features, were lost e.g. the floral clock, the lily pool shelter, park keeper's cottage.

01/07/2005: Friends of Pannett Park were formed.

2009 to 2011: Award and implementation of a Heritage Lottery Grant to restore and refurbish the park. Negotiated and carried out by Friends of Pannett park, SBC & WTC working with consultants. SBC manage the park now on a 30 yr lease continuing to work with Friends of Pannett park & WTC.


garden feature

A river of 15,000 crocus bulbs 130m in length was planted in the autumn of 2011 running down St. Hilda's Terrace to The South Seas Garden (Little Park). Over three days 40 children from local schools worked with the Friends of Pannett Park and council staff to complete this exciting project.

specimen tree

A stand of overgrown leylandii and holly was removed from a corner of the museum. This let light into a formerly dark, unattractive area allowing future planting to thrive. The tree stumps were ground out and the soil dug over and enriched with organic matter. A Cedrus Atlantica Glauca ( Blue Atlas Cedar) has been planted.

rose garden

This area has been completely renovated. Failing roses were removed and replanted elsewhere in the park in enriched soil. Soil was removed from the existing beds and 200 tonnes of fresh loam enriched with organic matter dug in. Mycorrhizal fungi were applied to the roots of the new plants to help develop sound root systems. The roses, sourced locally comprise Hybrid Musks, Floribundas and Hybrid Teas, all chosen for their vigour, reliability, disease resistance and scent.


The twin rockeries have been designed and replanted by the Friends of Pannett Park working in partnership with council staff. The plants were chosen to suit challenging conditions and provide seasonal interest.

herbaceous border

Funded by the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery as part of the restoration of the park these twin herbaceous borders have been replanted in a style that reflects the Gertrude Jekyll border on the main drive. Existing plants were reused elsewhere in the park. Matching obelisks have been installed.


A dark, damp, uninspiring corner near a main entrance has been transformed by the planting of ferns including Dicksonia antarctica, and hostas 'Sum and Substance' and 'Big Daddy' whose leathery leaves are less attractive to slugs.

garden feature

The Jurassic Garden: Forms links with Whitby's Jurassic coast and the world famous fossil collection in the museum. The primitive style planting has been boosted by the addition of more ferns, phyllostachys, pinus, Trachycarpus fortuneii and Rhus typhina (Stag's horn sumach).


Upper lawns.

floral clock

Feature created: 1953

Originally installed on June 2nd 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the clock was reinstated by the Friends of Pannett Park in 2006 thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the support of local townspeople and businesses. It was redesigned in 2012 in the shape of a crown to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.


Feature created: 1928

Originally a gift from the family of a retired sea captain Thomas Kirby, the lily pool was completed around the time of the park's opening in 1928. It was carefully restored in 2010 and the lilies you see growing there today were donated by the descendants of Captain Kirby.

garden feature

The Commemorative Garden. A quiet, reflective corner of the park with views through oak arches to Whitby Abbey. Sunderland glass bricks set in the arches represent the stained glass windows of the Abbey. 'We will remember them' is inscribed on sandstone walling.

garden feature

The South Seas Garden: a themed garden inspired by Whitby's early explorers. There is Maori imagery and art, and southern hemisphere planting.

garden feature

The Community Garden: an area where outside groups or schools can develop small plots.


The rose arbour was restored in 2010.


Feature created: 2012

The statue of the mythological Maori warrior Kupe was designed by local chain saw sculptor Steve Iredale.


Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Gold Dawn'
Prunus serrula
Betula utilis var. jacquemontii 'Doorenbos' (Himalayan birch 'Snow Queen')
Pinus nigra Austriaca (Austrian pine).

Planted: 2012


Organisations associated with this site

Yorkshire Gardens Trust

Dalewood House Trust Role: Charities

Friends of Pannett Park Role: Special Interest Group

Scarborough Borough Council Role: Manager/s

Trustees of Pannett Park Role: Guardianship

Whitby in Bloom Role: Special Interest Group

Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society Role: Special Interest Group

Whitby Town Council Role: Owner

Sources of information

A Lasting Legacy. The Story of Whitby's Pannett Park

Dennier, A A Lasting Legacy. The Story of Whitby's Pannett Park (Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society, 2009)

Contributor or Recorder Gill Wood; Anne Dennier


  • Pannett Park, the lily pool

    Pannett Park, the lily pool

  • Pannett Park, the rose arbour

    Pannett Park, the rose arbour

  • Pannett Park, statue of Kupe

    Pannett Park, statue of Kupe

  • Pannett Park, the Commemorative Garden

    Pannett Park, the Commemorative Garden

  • Pannett Park, the floral clock

    Pannett Park, the floral clock

  • Pannett Park, the lily pool

    Pannett Park, the lily pool

  • Pannett Park, the play area

    Pannett Park, the play area

  • Pannett Park, the Jurassic Garden

    Pannett Park, the Jurassic Garden