Work on groundbreaking Pilgrims Gallery begins

Feb 01, 2019

A redundant building is being transformed into a state of the art museum gallery that will tell the stories of the Pilgrim leaders who would go on to lead the Mayflower to the New World.

An old council building is being renovated into a state of the art Pilgrims Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford, Nottinghamshire, giving visitors an opportunity to find out more about Pilgrim Leaders William Brewster of Scrooby and William Bradford from Austerfield, as well as the views of the native Americans they encountered in the New World.

The Pilgrims Gallery is part of a £750,000 Heritage Lottery funded project which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage to America in 1620.  When completed, the Gallery will feature a recreation of William Brewster’s study, where people can learn more about the life of Brewster who lived at Scrooby Manor and worshipped at nearby St Wilfrid’s Church.  

The Study part of the gallery will include a combination of high-tech digital elements, including augmented reality film and more hands-on activities for children such as, block printing and writing with a quill and ink, echoing Brewster’s history of running a printing press in Leiden, where he fled with his family after leaving Nottinghamshire in 1608.

Bassetlaw Museum Pilgrim Gallery for Mayflower 400

The gallery will also include interpretation panels highlighting the themes of Religious Tolerance, Freedom and Migration; challenges which are as relevant in today’s world as they were when the Separatists fought for the right to practice their beliefs in the early 17th century. 

Councillor Jo White, Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw District Council said: “We have worked really closely with the gallery designers to ensure that visitors of all ages find the experience fun, entertaining and thought-provoking. The fully staffed gallery will allow us to signpost visitors around Retford on a mini-Pilgrim trail and on to the surrounding villages where our Pilgrims lived and worshipped. I believe this will have a positive impact on our visitor economy and attract many new visitors to our area.”

Doncaster based QCS are the company who were awarded the construction contract for the Pilgrims Gallery and specialist museum fit out experts Workhaus are installing the internal fixtures and fittings to an original design by architects Henry Taylor from Retford.  The gallery is expected to be complete in late May 2019.

The Heritage Lottery Fund project ‘Pilgrim Roots’ also includes the upgrading of the existing Mayflower Trail with new interpretation at Babworth, Scrooby and Sturton-le-Steeple in Nottinghamshire and Austerfield and Gainsborough in neighbouring counties; a new website which will inform visitors of an exciting events calendar associated with the Mayflower 400 anniversary in 2020 and the appointment of two additional members of staff, dedicated to improving the visitor experience and helping to tell the story of North Nottinghamshire’s Mayflower pilgrims to the rest of the world.

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