Date published: 15 September 2020
West Lindsey District Council recognises this historic date by raising awareness of the area’s links by contributing to the online documentary.
Wednesday 16 September is an important date in history, marking the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.
Gainsborough has a special connection to the Mayflower anniversary through the Separatist movements that originated in this region, some of whom later led the journey to America.
Presented by well-known TV historian Dan Snow, the documentary will reflect the story of the Pilgrims' roots and their journeys, the impact on the Native American people who helped them when they first arrived and the wider colonial context of the Mayflower’s voyage.
The special History Hits Mayflower programme will air on Wednesday 16 September at 6pm on www.mayflower400uk.org. West Lindsey’s Mayflower 400 Officer, Dr Anna Scott was invited to be interviewed for the programme talking about Pilgrims’ heritage and legacies.
“It’s been important to commemorate such a significant moment in international history and highlight Gainsborough’s role in that. Pilgrims’ history and heritage is complex and difficult at times, and has had enduring legacies across the world which we need to talk about more,” Dr Scott said.
Cllr Owen Bierley, Deputy Leader at West Lindsey District Council said: “West Lindsey District Council have been proud to play a part in the Mayflower 400 Compact Partnership, working together to tell the shared story of the Pilgrims across many places in the UK and beyond.”
Recognising the area’s connection to the story, West Lindsey District Council have a series of exciting plans that will leave a lasting legacy for residents and visitors, including:
The Pilgrim Woman – a bronze statue designed by local artist, Rachel Carter, will be sited on Gainsborough’s Riverside, bringing attention to the often unheard stories of the woman in these stories. The location of the statue also relates to the Separatists’ escape from the town via the River Trent, making their way to Immingham before boarding a ship to Amsterdam in 1608.
Choral commission – composer David Fawcett has written ‘A Sure Refuge’, a major new 50 minute cantata reflecting on the Pilgrims’ story and its resonance today. David, a former student at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Gainsborough and Head Chorister and Organ Scholar at All Saints’ Parish Church, is also a choral director and professional musician. His work will be performed in the town next year.
Special Edition Illustrated Children’s Book – working with local creative and media company, Electric Egg, a new illustrated book has been created telling the story of the Mayflower that is aimed at children aged 5-8. The book will be available in mid-November.
Illuminate 2020 – many look forward to Gainsborough’s Illuminate Parade that has taken place in November for the past three years. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus restrictions, a public parade will not be able to take place this year to ensure public safety. The team will instead be creating an online public participation event called ‘One Small Candle’ that will bring the community together at a time with so much uncertainty. More details are to be announced. For regular updates visit www.discovergainsborough.com/pilgrimroots or follow Discover Gainsborough on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It is hoped that this year’s parade will be able to take place in November 2021, the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving.
West Lindsey’s Mayflower 400 cultural programme is supported by funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Pilgrims’ journey began some years before 1620 when they decided to break away from the established Church at a time when this was illegal. Known as the Separatists, a group of them were thought to have worshipped in secret at Gainsborough Old Hall – now regarded as one of the best-preserved medieval manor houses in Britain, and similar to famous Pilgrim William Brewster’s original home in nearby Scrooby.
Religious pressures where too much for the Separatists and on 10 May 1608, a group of them left from Gainsborough in search of religious freedom. Some walked overland while others left via the River Trent on a small barge called ‘The Francis’ for Stallingborough near Immingham, where they would meet a larger boat that would take them to Amsterdam in Holland. By the time they reached Stallingborough, there were more than 80 people on-board.
However, they only lived there for 12 years before deciding to embark on their journey to America. They returned to England and met the Mayflower, which set sail on 16 September 1620 (after a failed first attempt!).
Explore the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and how they came to board the Mayflower ship all those years ago through West Lindsey District Council’s PilgrimAGE series, which has been running throughout the summer. Led by their tourism brand Discover Gainsborough, the series has included weekly blogs, videos and podcasts, which are being shared via their social media channels and website.
For more information visit www.discovergainsborough.com/pilgrimage or Follow Discover Gainsborough on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The series concludes on Wednesday 16 September. Commemoration plans will continue through to November 2021.
For more information about the Mayflower story and its links to Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and the Pilgrim Roots region visit www.discovergainsborough.com/pilgrimroots or www.pilgrimroots.co.uk. For more information about the National Mayflower 400 project visit www.mayflower400uk.com.