Rector defends photo ban for Goth weekend

The Rector of Whitby has defended a decision to ban photographs being taken near ancient gravestones at St Mary’s Church during the town’s famous Goth weekend.

The Rev David Smith said he had been forced to take action following a series of complaints from families who had witnessed Goths draping themselves over the stones as they posed for pictures.

However, he insisted the move, which has seen signs put up banning photography on or near the gravestones, was not an attack on the Goth community.

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He said: “The problem is people are climbing over the gravestones and lying on them. I know the graveyard has been a closed site since 1861, but Whitby families still have relatives buried there and it’s still a consecrated burial ground. I have nothing against the Goths going up there. It’s these photographers that come in and encourage them to lie on the stones.”

Each year the event attracts photographers from across the country, all eager to capture shots of the unusual outfits on display in the dramatic setting of the graveyard in a bid to sell on the pictures or use them in portfolios.

Mr Smith said: “It’s getting to the stage where you can go up there and find 40 photographers. You get all this rubbish that it’s Dracula’s graveyard, which is stupid.”

Members of the Goth community have turned to the event’s Facebook page to debate the issue. One member said: “All we can do is ask that people think about what they doing. We have to respect the wishes of the church.”

Mr Smith said the rule had also been enforced on health and safety grounds over fears the 150-year-old stones could collapse and cause injury.