One night in the autumn of 1607, a passionate and 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. They had walked 60 miles from Scrooby, near Gainsborough, and were hoping for a new life.
Leiden in Holland was a city of free-thinkers, relative religious tolerance, and a long tradition of offering shelter to the dispossessed. Following their escape from England, the Mayflower Pilgrims carved new lives here, bought land near Pieterskerk and built houses that became known as the Engelse poort (English Alley).
Scrooby Manor House
The leading religious Separatists who voyaged to America in 1620 were originally from the Bassetlaw area of Nottinghamshire, where their beliefs were shaped. Regarded as dangerous religious renegades who rejected fundamental principles of the State and the established Church of England, they worshipped in secret to avoid arrest and persecution.
St. Helena's Church, Austerfield
William Bradford of Austerfield, near Doncaster, became the second elected Governor of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1621. He continued to serve the Colony for almost 30 years.
Having set sail from Southampton, the Mayflower, with Pilgrims from the north of England, and Speedwell, carrying the Separatists from Lieden in Holland, didn't get very far before the Speedwell began to take on water again - either because she carried too much sail, straining her timbers, or the direct result of sabotage by the reluctant crew. The ships diverted to Dartmouth for repairs, arriving on 23 August 1620.
The Great Hall, Gainsborough Old Hall
Some of the Separatists are thought to have worshipped clandestinely at Gainsborough Old Hall - now regarded as one of the best preserved medieval manor houses in Britain - with the permission of its sympathetic owner, merchant William Hickman.
Low Lighthouse, Harwich. Essex.
The port of Harwich is a must-see destination for history-lovers. It is the place where the Mayflower ship is believed to have been built and where its captain, Christopher Jones lived and was twice wed.
Ross Castle, Cleethorpes
In 1608 the Separatists secured the services of a Dutch boat and her captain to take them to Holland. One of the group, Francis Hawkins fell ill - his body is buried in St. Andrews Church graveyard. The Dutch captain set sail from Immingham Creek with only the men - the women and children were to later join them in Holland - their journey no doubt full of perilous challenges.
Smeatons Tower, Plymouth Hoe
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.
Mayflower Pub, Rotherhithe
The Mayflower story and Southwark’s role in that historic voyage are deeply intertwined. Rotherhithe has a long seafaring and ship building history and was the place where Christopher Jones, the captain and part owner of the ship, and many of the crew lived.
Mayflower Memorial, Southampton
The Mayflower arrived in Southampton in late July 1620 and several days later was joined by the Speedwell, carrying the Pilgrims from Leiden. Their intention was to prepare both vessels and sail in company directly to America.
St. Peters Church, Droitwich
Droitwich Spa had been a centre for Salt Mining and became a key settlement during the Roman era known as Salinae. Droitwich Spa brine exists far below the ground and emanates at the surface as springs. Droitwich Brine is the strongest natural salt water known, and contains 30% natural salts. This is 10 times more concentrated than normal sea water, making it as dense as the Dead Sea.
The history of the Pilgrim Fathers is closely connected with the city of Rotterdam. Indeed, the origin of the name Pilgrim Fathers lies in Delfshaven. It was there that on 22 July 1620, a group of English Puritan Calvinists led by Rev John Robinson set sail for the New World from the Middenkouskade, aboard the less than seaworthy ‘Speedwell’.
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Austerfield, near Doncaster and the market town of Bawtry. Home of William Bradford who was baptised in St. Helena's Church and later became Plymouth Colony's first elected Govenor.
In the Bassetlaw area of north Nottinghamshire, the beliefs of the leading Separatists who voyaged to American in 1620 were shaped. Explore the Pilgrim Roots.
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. Close to Scrooby and Retford. Some of the Separatists are thought to have worshipped in secret at the Old Hall with permission of its owner, merchant William Hickman.
The Scrooby congregation - including Williams Brewster and Bradford - made their first attempt to escape to Holland from Boston in Lincolnshire. They were held and tried in Boston Guildhall.
It was from Immingham Creek on the edge of the river Humber that the Separatists made a dangerous, but successful escape from England to Holland in their search for religious freedom.
Prominent Mayflower passenger, Edward Winslow came from Worcestershire - he was schooled in Worcester and came from Droitwich Spa. Following the voyage, he later returned to England.
The Separatists escaped from England to Holland and settled in Leiden - a city of free-thinkers and religious tolerance. It was their resting place for almost 12 years before departing on the Speedwell in preparation for their final voyage to the New World.
The Mayflower is believed to have been built in Harwich sometime before 1600, and was commanded and part-owned by her Master, Captain Christopher Jones, whose house still stands near the waterfront.
The London borough of Southwark, which includes the former docklands of Rotherhithe, has many links with the voyage of the Pilgrims. It was the home port of the Mayflower, and the area was one with its own strong tradition of religious descent.
The Mayflower arrived in Southampton in July 1620 and several days later was joined by the Speedwell, carrying the Pilgrims from Leiden. On 15 August the two ships weighted anchor and set sail.
When the Speedwell began to take on water, both ships and their crew changed course and arrived in Dartmouth on 23 August. They rested here whilst repairs were made in Bayards cove before heading out into the English Channel.
300 miles clear of England, the Speedwell continued to leak and both ships turned about for Plymouth. Eventually, just the Mayflower set sail with up to 30 crew and 102 passengers on board. The final departure city before embarking on life in the New World.
After a storm tossed 66 days at sea, the Mayflower anchored on the tip of Cape Cod, at what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts. The settlers formulated the 'Mayflower Compact'.