Mayflower 400 in Plymouth, UK

Plymouth's Mayflower 400 commemorations featured inspiring cultural events that took place online and in-person despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Central to the anniversary was the telling of the Native American Wampanoag story, ensuring that for the first time this was to be a true Four Nation commemoration.

Highlights of the anniversary programmed included:

Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy

The 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth was marked by a ground breaking exhibition at the maritime city's newest heritage attraction, The Box. The exhibition featured more than 300 objects drawn from museum, library and archive collections across the UK, USA and The Netherlands. It is an epic journal of survival, imagination and 400 years of America.

Wampum: Stories from the Shells of North America

This national touring exhibition was created by The Box in partnership with Wampanoag scholars and artists. It featured the creation of a new Wampum Belt in a moment of huge cultural significance.

The Hatchling

A giant puppet in the form of a dragon took to the streets and skies over Plymouth over the August Bank Holiday weekend in one of the most eagerly-anticipated events of Mayflower 400. Taller than a double-decker bus, The Hatchling was conceived by Angie Bual, artistic director of Trigger, the Bristol-based producers of extraordinary theatrical projects.

Speedwell

This large-scale art installation, created by local artist collective Still/Moving, transformed the Mount Batten Breakwater into a public forum for discussion and debate about the impact and legacy of the ship's journey, colonialism and the ecological state of our planet.

Mayflower Autonomous Ship

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is a ground-breaking new ship which aims to reflect the historic transatlantic voyage some 400 years ago. However, truly following in the footsteps of the original Mayflower, the MAS unfortunately had to cut short its maiden voyage just days after leaving Plymouth. The teams behind the project - IBM and ProMare - hope to attempt another crossing at a later date.

Illuminate

This spectacular festival of light officially launched the the Mayflower 400 commemoration year in November 2019 at a number of key locations across the globe. In Plymouth, a four-day extravaganza included stunning light shows at Royal William Yard, the Waterfront, and Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park.

Some Call it Home

This thought-provoking, contemporary classical music drama by Robert Taub, music director at The Arts Institute Plymouth, responds to the arrival of the Mayflower passengers in modern-day Massachusetts in 1620. It enjoyed its premiere at Theatre Royal Plymouth in June 2021

400: A Comedy

The award-winning Le Navet Bete team rounded off their 'Season of Silliness' at Theatre Royal Plymouth in summer 2021 with '400: A Comedy' - a fast-paced show for all the family which formed a key part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Plymouth and the Mayflower story

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 about for Plymouth.

By this time the cramped and damp passengers had already spent up to six weeks at sea, with a fair wind and good fortune they would have hoped to be closing on their destination by then. The Speedwell was finally declared unfit for the journey. Some of the Pilgrims dropped out; the remainder crowded onto the Mayflower, which required re-provisioning, despite funds running low.

She left on 16 September with up to 30 crew and 102 passengers on board. Just under half of them were Separatists, but all the passengers came from a variety of backgrounds and places all over England and from Leiden in the Netherlands - with lots of different motivations for travelling.

It is believed the Pilgrims arrived in a Plymouth that was maritime town trading with ports and places all over England and the into the Mediterranean. Some of the bustling port of 1620 still survives today with historic buildings such as Island House, the Elizabethan House and the old customs house still standing.

Island House, situated on Southside Street, dates from between 1572 and 1600 and is reputed to be one of the houses the Pilgrims were entertained in prior their departure for America.

New Street Plymouth

The Elizabethan House is found on New Street (pictured above) and represented a relatively new area of the town’s development in 1620, as the street dates from 1584, the year English ships sailed to Roanoke and created England’s first colony in America.

The Protestant community were also sympathetic to the Pilgrims cause. Plymouth had a long Protestant tradition and the port had been previously used as a base for fighting Protestant England's war against Catholic Europe.

When the Speedwell and Mayflower anchored in Plymouth, many families in the town had seen their men sail off to fishing grounds in New England and Newfoundland. They were probably aware too that the end of August was too late to set sail across the Atlantic and their men were due to return home.

The ship-builders in Plymouth said the Speedwell was unfit to cross the Atlantic, the Mayflower would therefore have to travel alone. There was not enough room for everyone on board one ship but, by then, some Pilgrims had already lost heart or were simply too weak to continue the journey by sea.

But the Pilgrims pressed on, with a unimaginable difficult journey ahead of them - one that would have consequences for history that they could not have contemplated.

Supported by our national sponsors and funding partners

Plymouth Mayflower Highlights

  • Mayflower Events
  • Attractions
  • Accommodation

01 Jan-30 Jun 21

Directions Screening 3: Utopian Landscapes (Date TBC)

Plymouth, England

01 Jan-30 Jun 21

Plymouth and District Organists’ Association (Date TBC)

Plymouth, England

Smeatons Tower Plymouth Hoe

01 Jan-30 Jun 21

University of Plymouth: Britain and the World 2020 Conference (Date TBC)

Plymouth, England

01 Jan-30 Jun 21

Plymouth Philharmonic Choir (Date TBC)

Plymouth, England

29 Sep-18 Sep 21

Mayflower 400: Legend And Legacy

Plymouth, England

16 Sep 20

Dan Snow's History Hit: Mayflower 400 - Steering our future, informed by the past

Plymouth, England

04 Sep-30 Nov 20

Speedwell

Plymouth, England

01-31 Oct 20

Mayflower 400 - Get Active in October

Plymouth, England

10 Oct 20

The Story of the Mayflower

Plymouth, England

24 Oct 20

UK Each/Other weekly sewing circle launch

Plymouth, England

01-30 Nov 20

Plymouth Symphony Orchestra (Date TBC)

Plymouth, England

01-30 Nov 20

Mayflower 400 - Get Active in November

Plymouth, England

17 Nov 20

Blood Memory UK

Plymouth, England

Love and Fury Film Screening / Q&A Zoom with Director Sterlin Harjo

Plymouth, England

18 Nov 20

The Mayflower Story - A Conspiracy?

Plymouth, England

20 Nov 20

Still/Moving 'In Conversation'

Plymouth, England

28 Mar 21

Mayflower LIVE with Dr Elaine Murphy

Plymouth, England

17 Apr 21

The Elephant in the Room Online Screening

Plymouth, England

18 May-11 Jul 21

Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America

Plymouth, England

16 Jun-04 Jul 21

Le Navet Bete present 400: A Comedy

Plymouth, England

04-05 Jun 21

Some Call It Home

Plymouth, England

03-09 Jun 21

Mayflower 400 Quilt Exhibition

Plymouth, England

10-11 Jul 21

Smell the 1620s

Plymouth, England

16-17 Jul 21

Imagination Museum: Mayflower 400

Plymouth, England

28 Aug 21

Mayflower International Genealogical Conference

Plymouth, England

28-29 Aug 21

The Hatchling

Plymouth, England

28 Aug 21

Launch of Mayflower mural at YMCA Plymouth

Plymouth, England

21 Aug 21

Multicultural tea dance

Plymouth, England

21 Nov 21

Plymouth Symphony Orchestra Mayflower 400 concert in Liskeard

Plymouth, England

24 Nov 21

Plymouth Symphony Orchestra Mayflower 400 concert in Plymouth

Plymouth, England

04 Sep 21

Mayflower Morris Muster

Plymouth, England

05 Sep 21

Gifford Place Cemetery Podcasts Open Day

Plymouth, England

Smeatons Tower Plymouth Hoe

04 Sep 21

Mayflower Madness Festival

Plymouth, England

04 Sep 21

Mayflower Community Fun Day

Plymouth, England

11 Sep 21

Plymouth 1620: The Place, The People, The Evidence

Plymouth, England

18 Sep 21

Adelaide Street Party by Adelaide Angels

Plymouth, England

Roots Up! by Street Factory

Plymouth, England

Mayflower Museum

Mayflower Museum

Visitor Attraction

The Mayflower Museum explores the story of the voyage of the Pilgrims and their journey aboard the Mayflower.

Elizabethan House

Visitor Attraction

The Elizabethan House is a historic property laid out in the style of a merchant or sea captain’s home from the 1600s. The house will re-open on Tuesday 20 July, 2021.

The Black Friars Plymouth Gin Distillery

The Black Friars Plymouth Gin Distillery

Visitor Attraction

The oldest working gin distillery in England. The Pilgrims are thought to have dined here on the eve of the Mayflower departure.

The Mayflower Steps

Monument / Memorial

A monument to commemorate and mark the departure of the Mayflower ship from Plymouth in 1620.

Smeaton's Tower

Smeaton's Tower

Visitor Attraction

Smeaton's Tower is a memorial to celebrated civil engineer John Smeaton, designer of the third and most notable Eddystone Lighthouse.

Mount Edgcumbe House & Country Park

Mount Edgcumbe House & Country Park

Park / Open Space

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is listed as Grade I on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

The National Marine Aquarium

The National Marine Aquarium

Visitor Attraction

The National Marine Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United Kingdom.

Royal William Yard

Royal William Yard

Historic Site

The Royal William Victualling Yard was the major victualling depot of the Royal Navy and an important adjunct of Devonport Dockyard.

Saltram House

Saltram House

Visitor Attraction

Refined Georgian house with a notable interior, period furnishings, porcelain and smart grounds.

Select South West Tours

Guided Walking Tour

Delivering luxurious, customisable trips For private groups.

The Box

Visitor Attraction

The Box, a state of the art museum, will open in 2020 as the flagship building for the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Mayflower Steps

Adult tickets start at £8

Plymouth Walking Tours

Guided Walking Tour

Explore the historic city of Plymouth with the expert guides from Devon & Cornwall Tour Guides

Buckfast Abbey

Visitor Attraction

Nestled on the southern slopes of Dartmoor, in a beautiful wooded valley beside the river Dart, Buckfast Abbey offers visitors a tranquil refuge from the hectic pace of everyday life.

Crowne Plaza Plymouth

Crowne Plaza Plymouth

Hotel

Overlooking Plymouth Hoe's greenery and the coastline, the Crowne Plaza Plymouth is less than 10 minutes' walk from Plymouth city centre. Panoramic views across the Plymouth Sound bay feature in the 11th-floor dining room.

Jurys Inn Plymouth

Jurys Inn Plymouth

Hotel

In the heart of the city centre adjacent to Plymouth's historic tourist quarter and shopping centre.

New Continental Hotel

New Continental Hotel

Hotel

The New Continental Hotel’s central location makes it easy to explore Plymouth's maritime delights.

Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa

Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa

Hotel

The 5-star Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa is situated on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and just five minutes from Plymouth.

Copthorne Hotel

Copthorne Hotel

Hotel

The Copthorne Hotel Plymouth offers spectacular views towards the historic Barbican and Hoe areas.

The Grosvenor Plymouth

The Grosvenor Plymouth

Bed & Breakfast

Originally built in 1879 this beautiful Victorian property has been welcoming guests since 1990.

The Duke of Cornwall Hotel

The Duke of Cornwall Hotel

Hotel

Set in the heart of Britain’s Ocean City, the Duke of Cornwall is a stunning period hotel brimming with character and style.

Premier Inn Sutton Harbour

Premier Inn Sutton Harbour

Hotel

Dream of life on the open waves with Premier Inn Hotel Plymouth City Centre (Sutton Harbour). Just minutes from Plymouth's bustling shops and buzzing nightlife you're in a great location.

Travelodge Plymouth

Travelodge Plymouth

Hotel

Travelodge Plymouth is in the heart of the city, a short walk from the breathtaking views of Plymouth Sound from Hoe Park.

1620

1620

Hotel

1620 will be a landmark redevelopment on the iconic facade of Plymouth Hoe.

St Anne's House

St Anne's House

Hotel

St Anne’s House is the perfect country retreat for your special event, party or relaxing getaway, offering you exclusive use. This wonderful Plymouth venue is within a stone’s throw of a golf course and also provides stunning sea views.

News

Sign up for the latest Mayflower 400 news

You'll be the first to hear the latest Mayflower news, events, and more.

TV historian Dan Snow presented a fascinating online @HistoryHit documentary which aired on 16 September 2020 - 400… https://t.co/3PJzeFVyuK

Follow @mayflower400uk

Mayflower 400 Proudly Supported by our National Sponsors and Funding Partners