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'Dracula' Church, St Mary's, 'Not Under Threat' Despite Human Bones Tumbling From Cliff

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A church overlooking Whitby's historic harbour is not under threat despite parts of its graveyard disappearing down the surrounding cliffs.

Human remains from graves at St Mary's in North Yorkshire have been tumbling down onto residents below after a series of landslides sent the gory debris onto houses and businesses on the east side of the picture-postcard town.

Thousands of tourists every year trek up the 199 steps which link the church and the abbey to the sea. The church is a magnet for Dracula fans as it is mentioned in Bram Stoker's famous gothic novel.

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The 12th century church is featured in the gothic novel

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of York, which is undertaking the emergency engineering work, stressed the church is not in danger of collapse.

She said the building is anchored to solid rock. She also stressed the graveyard was closed more than 100 years ago and the human remains which have come down the cliff are quite old.

Engineering work is under way to stabilise the cliff which has threatened buildings, including a 140-year-old kipper smokehouse.

"A lot of the emergency engineering steps have already been taken," she said. "What is happening now is mainly ensuring the stability of the slope."

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The landslip in Whitby

The landslip was originally believed to have been caused by a damaged drainage pipe, which left rainwater pouring out of the ancient graveyard and down the cliff.

The church is a familiar sight on postcards as it sits next to Whitby's famous abbey, high above the harbour.

St Mary's is a Grade I-listed structure and parts of it date from the 12th century.

The landslip is different from one about a quarter of a mile along Whitby's east cliff which led to a terrace of five houses being demolished last year.

Work knocking down the former jet workers' cottages on Aelfreda Terrace has been completed.