About Mayflower 400

The year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Mayflower ship from the UK to the ‘New World’ of America.

The anniversary will commemorate the legacy of the passengers and crew who undertook the epic journey inspired by an unquenchable desire for freedom; and for whom the voyage promised newfound liberty. 

The International Mayflower Compact partnership has been created to bring together 11 core UK member destinations across England, alongside the United States of America, the Native American community and the Netherlands.

The international Mayflower compact partners are united in their passion to commemorate the anniversary and to celebrate shared values of freedom, democracy, humanity and the future.

In the build up to and during 2020, these locations have created an international Mayflower Trail and an accompanying world class cultural programme which will unite communities, inspire creativity, drive economic growth and promote understanding. Over 400 ‘moments’ will take place, ranging from international civic ceremonies to local community events.

You can browse Mayflower 400's signature projects and events here

The 11 UK member destinations within the Mayflower 400 programme are:

  • Austerfield, Doncaster
  • Boston, Lincolnshire
  • Dartmouth, Devon
  • Gainsborough, Lincolnshire
  • Harwich, Essex
  • Immingham, Lincolnshire
  • Plymouth, Devon
  • Scrooby & Babworth, Nottinghamshire
  • Southwark, London
  • Southampton, Hampshire
  • Worcestershire

You can find detailed information on all the individual destinations in the Visit section.

The commemorations will recognise the impact of the Mayflower’s journey on Native American communities and address themes of migration, tolerance, freedom and democracy that have such contemporary relevance, as well as the long-standing relationship between the UK and the US and the history of Thanksgiving, ensuring the Mayflower’s legacy lives on.

There are over 30 million US descendants of the passengers and crew who sailed on the Mayflower. The Mayflower 400 project aims to reach out to these descendants and other ancestral tourists to invite them to visit England and be a part of the anniversary year.

This international partnership of thirteen communities led by Plymouth, Massachusetts and Plymouth, England, has worked together on the historic 400th anniversary since 2014. All partners have their own vision of the importance of this commemoration to their respective nations and the world.

Although cultural emphasis and local aims may vary to some degree we are united in our vision to celebrate the enduring shared values of freedom at the heart of our national identities.

Our mission is to inspire a lasting legacy of kinship and transformational change within our communities which is founded on our shared values, and history.

Mayflower 400 will:

  • Highlight the strength of the UK-US-NL relationship
  • Demonstrate that the UK is open for visitors and business
  • Drive an economic boost through creative, cultural and tourism sectors
  • Bring communities together through culture and heritage

Collaborations include:

  • The creation of a national Mayflower trail, that will join destinations across the UK and drive visitor footfall
  • The creation of an aligned cultural programme, with key events such as Illuminate linked nationally to enhance
    impact 
  • Shared branding across national and international partners, creating a unique tourism product and raising awareness 
  • Shared resources and skills across the international partnership to deliver projects that could not be achieved alone

What’s the date?

In 1620 the Mayflower set sail from the New World. The official anniversary date used by the Mayflower 400 partners to mark the 400th anniversary is 16th September 2020.

Some celebrate the anniversary on the 6th September which was the date in the Julian calendar used by the Pilgrims. The Julian calendar is around 10 days behind the Gregorian calendar that we use today. 

Our Values

Freedom
The liberty of the individual to pursue their beliefs

Humanity
We do not discriminate, we are for everyone

Imagination
In the spirit of the Pilgrims we think big, we improvise and we innovate

Future
We always look forward, building knowledge and legacy

Four nations

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, an event of global significance resonating down through those four centuries. The Mayflower Pilgrim’s principles of individual liberty and freedom first took root in the UK, were nurtured in the Netherlands and then flowered in America and the Wampanoag nation. Their values have since guided all modern democracies.

As a story of adversity and welcome, written across borders and continents, the commemoration of their voyage offers the opportunity to learn from our shared past and inform our joint futures.

Mayflower 400 is a five-year programme of community, creative, educational and capital investment, celebrating our humanity, our international solidarity and our diversity of culture and belief. It will explore, explain and give thanks for the Pilgrim’s impact on world history, refreshing the lessons of their legacy.

Leiden, Netherlands

Leiden, a city and municipality in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands, are also closely involved in the commemoration of the Pilgrims journey due to the city being home to the Pilgrims for over 10 years and where they eventually left in the Speedwell in 1620.

United States of America and the Wampanoag Nation

America is poised for an anniversary of international significance: the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth colony. The crossing of the Mayflower in 1620 and the relationship between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag are iconic moments in America’s narrative which ultimately changed the course of world history.

While this is a global commemoration, it marks the beginning of American democracy. Told for the first time from both the England and Wampanoag perspectives, Pilgrim and Native America descendants are working together to create a 400th anniversary that is historically accurate and culturally inclusive, connecting individuals across the globe through educational, cultural and heritage events, exhibits and programmes.

Through the themes of exploration, innovation, self-governance, religious freedom, immigration and thanksgiving, it will honour a collective past and engage people worldwide in building a brighter future.

The Mayflower Trail

Austerfield, Doncaster

The Bradford family home

The Bradford family home

Austerfield was the hometown of William Bradford, the second elected Governor of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts
in 1621. Bradford was baptised at St Helena’s church
where the original font can be seen today. After travelling to America, Bradford was a signatory of the historic Mayflower Compact, and bequeathed much of our knowledge today on their momentous journey and early years of the Colony in his journal, ‘Of Plimoth Plantation’.

Scrooby and Babworth, Nottinghamshire

The Old Vicarage, Scrooby

The Old Vicarage, Scrooby

The leading religious Separatists (who later became known as ‘Pilgrims’) were originally from the Bassetlaw area of Nottinghamshire, where their beliefs were shaped. The group were seen as dangerous religious outlaws and so they were forced to worship in secret. Among them was William Brewster who was brought up in Scrooby and later became senior elder and the leader of the colonists’ community. Inspired by the radical words of Richard Clifton, the rector of nearby All Saints’ Church in Babworth, Brewster is believed to have founded a Separatist Church in his family home, the privately owned Scrooby Manor House.

Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

Gainsborough Great Hall

Gainsborough Great Hall

Some of the Separatists are thought to have worshipped clandestinely at Gainsborough Old Hall with the permission
of its owner, merchant William Hickman; they later escaped
to Holland from the town’s riverside. The Hall is regarded as one of the best-preserved medieval manor houses in Britain. Their preacher, John Smyth, was a strong influence on the Mayflower Pilgrims and is considered to have been a founder of the Baptist denomination. The John Robinson Memorial Church was built in the town to honour the memory of the local Separatist and Pilgrim leader in Holland, himself the founder of the Congregational denomination.

Boston, Lincolnshire

Boston Guildhall

Boston Guildhall

One night in the autumn of 1607, a determined group of men, women and children secretly met a boat on the edge of ‘The Wash’ at Scotia Creek, Fishtoft, near Boston. They planned to defy the authority of the English church and escape across the North Sea to Holland to live in religious freedom. The group were betrayed and stripped of their belongings and hope, they were brought by boat to Boston and held and tried at the Guildhall, home to the local law court and cells. Today, people can visit Boston Guildhall and see the cells where they were held. Nearby is the Pilgrim memorial marking the point at Scotia Creek from where they made their attempt to escape.

Immingham, Lincolnshire

Immingham

The year following the trial of the Scrooby congregation at Boston Guildhall, they made another attempt to escape, this time successfully. The Separatists secured the services of a Dutch boat and its captain to take them to Holland. The Dutch captain set sail from Immingham Creek with only the men at first. The women and children who took refuge in St Andrew’s Church, joined later. Immingham Creek is now part of the port of Immingham, the largest port by tonnage in the country.

St Andrew’s Church welcomes visitors to re-discover the story and in 2019 will be celebrating its 800th year anniversary. On the nearby green is a memorial to those who made the journey, organised by the Anglo-American Society and made with rock from Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Worcestershire

Worcester Cathedral

Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, was the birthplace of Edward Winslow, one of the senior leaders of the Mayflower and later Governor of the Plymouth colony.

The historic City of Worcester is home to the magnificent Cathedral where Winslow attended school before heading to London to do an apprenticeship. Worcester is often known as ‘The Faithful City’, being the last city to support King Charles II in the Battle of Worcester which was fought in 1651 against Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War.

Leiden, Holland 

Following their departure from Immingham, the Separatists landed in the free-thinking city of Leiden, known for its relative religious tolerance and a long tradition of offering shelter to the homeless.

They were allowed to practise their faith in freedom under Rev Robinson, who had a small group of tiny houses built behind the Pieterskerk (St Peter’s Church) and offered services at his home. After living in Holland for nearly 12 years, they decided they would all travel together to America to start a new community.

They sold their personal belongings in order to buy a ship called the Speedwell and on 20th August 1620 they set sail for England to meet the Mayflower. Today, visitors to Leiden can find the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, the Pieterskerk and see the streets and churches of the time the Pilgrims resided in Leiden.

Rotterdam, Holland

The Pilgrims left Leiden and made their way to Delfshaven in Rotterdam. After spending a night at the port, they waved goodbye to the Netherlands and the Speedwell weighed anchor and headed out for the open sea, towards England. The Old Church or the Pilgrim Fathers Church can be found at the Voorhaven in Delfshaven. A window with stained glass, depicting the difficult crossing, shows the historic moment at which the Pilgrim Fathers set off.

Harwich, Essex

The story of the Mayflower is intrinsically linked with the historic port of Harwich and plays a special part in the iconic ship’s history.

The ship was originally designated as “of Harwich” and is believed to have been built in the Essex coastal town and was commanded and part-owned by Captain Christopher Jones, whose house stands on Kings Head Street today.

Jones was twice married in St. Nicholas Church, Harwich, and his first wife Sara Twitt lived opposite the ship’s Captain in a house, which is now home to a popular local hostelry – the Alma Inn.

Visit Jones' historic house and experience the foundations of the Mayflower’s journey in a town, which retains the same look and charm as it did in the 17th century. Marvel at a largely untold story of the Captain’s life and see the Great Charter, which names Jones as a one of the capital burgesses by James I in 1604.

Southwark, London

The Mayflower pub

The Mayflower pub

The London Borough of Southwark, which includes the former docklands of Rotherhithe was the home port of the Mayflower. Captain Christopher Jones and his crew lived here. The Separatists boarded the Mayflower in Rotherhithe close to the present-day Mayflower Inn and set sail for Southampton to the Speedwell. Today, people can visit the Mayflower pub (formerly The Spread Eagle) in Rotherhithe and view the original 1620 mooring point of the original Mayflower ship. Today, those who can prove a family connection to the original Pilgrims can also sign the Mayflower Descendants Book, which is available upon request. The Mayflower Pub is also the only pub licenced to sell US and UK postage stamps, a service, which dates back to the 1800s when seafarers docking at Rotherhithe with little time to spare were able to order a pint and a stamp!

Southampton

The historic Pig in the Wall pub beside the Westgate entrance to the city, where the Pilgrims would have walked

The Mayflower arrived in Southampton in late July 1620 and several days later was joined by the Speedwell, carrying the Pilgrims from Leiden, Holland. Their intention was to prepare both vessels and sail together directly to America. The town had established trading links with Virginia and Newfoundland so there were many experienced seamen in Southampton who had previously made the Atlantic crossing. John Alden, a merchant, and William Brewster are thought to have boarded the Mayflower here, William after having been in hiding after publishing material that had angered King James. On 15th August 1620 the two ships weighed anchor and set sail.

Dartmouth, Devon

Having departed from Southampton, the Mayflower and Speedwell didn’t get far before the Speedwell began to take on water again. They arrived in Dartmouth on 23rd August and, according to passengers, the Speedwell was leaking heavily and required urgent attention. The Pilgrims were regarded with suspicion by the locals, who feared they may be radicalised
by these rebels, and the repairs were made in Bayards Cove Harbour while the Mayflower moored upstream on the River Dart beside what is now known as Pilgrim Hill.

While much has changed on the waterfront since, the Bayards Cove, Lower Street, Smith Street and Agincourt House, which is now a hotel, are still recognisable. It took around a week for the port’s skilled craftsmen to rectify the damage before they headed out into the English Channel again, bound for the North Atlantic.

Plymouth, Devon, England

Mayflower Steps Plymouth

The Mayflower and Speedwell were 300 miles clear of Land’s End when the smaller ship once more began leaking badly and couldn’t risk continuing. They turned back towards Plymouth and the Speedwell was finally declared unfit for the journey. Some of the Pilgrims decided against the voyage altogether and the remaining members crowded onto the Mayflower. The ship finally departed British soil on 16th September 1620 with up to 30 crew and 102 passengers on board. Just under half of them were Separatists, the rest were ‘economic migrants’ who were skilled tradespeople sent by the investors to help build the new colony. Today, visitors to the city of Plymouth can find the Mayflower Steps memorial in the city’s Barbican area, which commemorates the passengers final departure point.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, US

After a perilous journey and 66 days at sea, the Mayflower finally landed in America. However due to bad weather, instead of arriving in the Colony of Virginia, where they had initially received permission to land, the Mayflower anchored much further south at what is present-day Provincetown. In search of clean water and fertile land, the pilgrims then decided to depart Provincetown and on 26th December 1620 they arrived in what they named Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts.

The Mayflower Compact was signed aboard the ship and was the first agreement for self-government to be created and enforced in America. The harsh New England winter claimed many lives and, by the end of the first winter, just under half
of the crew and passengers had survived. The Pilgrims then began to form an alliance with the Native Americans of the local Wampanoag community who taught them how to hunt and grow their own food. At the end of the following summer, the Plymouth colonists celebrated their first successful harvest with a three-day festival of Thanksgiving, which became the annual holiday Americans celebrate today.
 

Provincetown, US

Provincetown had a key role in the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims, Mayflower Compact and exploration of the outer Cape, as well as the culture and history of the Wampanoag peoples. In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, the Provincetown Board of Select men, members of the press, town government and community have unveiled plans for a 2020 celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims in Provincetown, signing of the Mayflower Compact and edifying the Wampanoag story to the public. The Executive Director of non-profit organisation, Lisa Giuffre, outlined a programme designed to honour the scope of Provincetown’s 400 years of history, while educating the public through informative and entertaining events and activities. Of particular important to the plan is highlighting Provincetown’s role in the landing of the Mayflower and the subsequent settlement of

the Pilgrims. “In the spirit of the Mayflower Compact and the signers’ commitment to a ‘civic body politic in the ‘New World’”, shares Guiffre, “Provincetown’s 400 utilises its programmes to reflect, discuss and grow to a deeper understanding of those different from oneself, helping to make us stronger and more capable of tackling the complex social issues of our time.”

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