Mayflower 400 events get underway this month

November sees the start of Mayflower 400, marking 400 years since the Mayflower’s voyage from England to America, writes Dr Anna Scott.

By Steve Eyley
Thursday, 14th November 2019, 8:50 am
Updated Thursday, 14th November 2019, 8:52 am
Illuminate events will mark the start of the Mayflower 400 events. Photo: Electric Egg
Illuminate events will mark the start of the Mayflower 400 events. Photo: Electric Egg

Many of the leading passengers, known as the Pilgrims, came from Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire.

Mayflower 400 is a commemoration, linking local Pilgrims’ heritage stories in the UK to the Netherlands, the USA and the Wampanoag Nation by a voyage from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

This month, Illuminate events across the country will open the commemorative year inspired by the words of leading separatist and pilgrim, William Bradford, who wrote, ‘as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.’

Throughout 2020, a range of spectacular events will take place across the pilgrim roots region to commemorate this significant historical moment and tell the story of the Pilgrims who came from this part from England, with new exhibitions, talks, events and trails.

The origins of the Pilgrims’ story can be traced back to the 1500s when King Henry VIII decided to break away from the Catholic Church of Rome to create his own Protestant Church of England.

Puritans wanted to strip away all Catholic practices, but the Separatists wanted to go further, forming a new church.

It was in this region that separatists formed their ideas.

One of their leaders, William Brewster, of Scrooby, is thought to have allowed separatists to worship in secret in at his home and another group met in Gainsborough Old Hall.

In 1608, a group of separatists fled to Holland – some of them from Gainsborough’s riverside up the River Trent to Immingham.

Life in Holland was difficult, and after nearly 12 years they made plans to leave for Virginia, on America’s East Coast.

After purchasing a ship, the Speedwell, they met the Mayflower in England to set sail for America in 1620.

The leaking Speedwell had to be abandoned in Plymouth, Devon, and many of the passengers crowded onto the Mayflower and sailed to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

There, the settlers wrote the Mayflower Compact – an agreement to help the group survive.

You can now download the Mayflower 400 app to enjoy free, self-guided walks and driving tours of each of the villages, towns and cities connected to the story, just search for Mayflower 400 in your app store.

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Dr Anna Scott is heritage consultant at West Lindsey Council.