We have been involved in the Mayflower 400 project since April 2017.
We were part of the digital engagement team working on how to use new technology to tell the story to a UK and International audience. (Note: The Digital Team has since ceased to meet but an independent group is continuing the work it started.)
History and relevance today
Focus has continued its research into the story of the Mayflower, its passengers and crew who sailed to America in 1620. It has taken us all over the country. We have met many interesting people. The story itself maybe 400 years old but the relevance to what is happening in the world today is very striking.
The passengers on the Mayflower were seeking a safe place to practice their religious faith without fear of punishment, torture or death. Others were aboard the ship seeking an opportunity to start a new life to financially better themselves and their families whilst others were just seeking adventure.
If you watch or read the news today we can see that not much has changed in the last 400 years with economic and religious migrants trying to emigrate to more affluent, safer and more tolerant countries.
Online resource development – mapping the passengers
At the start of our Mayflower 400 journey back in the Spring of 2017 one of our first tasks was to identify where in England the passengers came from and plot them on a digital map so local communities across England could see what connection they had to the story. The map can be seen here.
At one of the digital team engagement team meetings we were made aware of a tapestry panel depicting the events of 1620. Following up the lead we found that the designer and creative driving force behind what was known as The New World Tapestry, Tom Mor, was living in Cambridgeshire.
New World Tapestry – Online virtual tour
We have an office in St Ives, Cambridgeshire so started to do research into the New World Tapestry and met Tom. We found out that the Tapestry was in store at Bristol City Museum so created a Virtual Tour of each of its 24 panels with the museums help and Tom acting as the guide. The tour can be found here. The interview with Tom can be found here.
We also helped organise a reunion with some of the people who worked on the project which lasted almost 20 years as it grew from a single panel to 24. It was great fun and wonderful to get an insight from some of those who worked on the tapestry panels. Over 250+ people had worked on the project over the 20 years. This will have real heritage value as many of the volunteers who worked on the project are sadly no longer with us but we have now captured video of their experiences so later generations can share that too.
Additional online resources
Over the last 18 months we have created a number of audio and video programs as a result of our Mayflower 400 research. These include:
- The search for the missing Mayflower – a scale model – link to read
- The initial Digital Engagement Team meeting – link to details and interviews here
- The English Church C16th – C20th – a tour with Roger Wilson – interviews here,
- Retford and its Separatists heritage– an interview with author Adrian Grey
- 2018 Religious Tolerance Conference – an interview with the organisers
- Mayflower Guided Walk – Pilgrim Guided Walk with SeeSouthampton and interview
- The link between The Hemingfords, Cambridgeshire and the Mayflower – read here
- Tom Bartlett – a descendant of Mayflower passenger John Howland – an interview
- Cambridge University, its history and role in the separatist story – Joshua Kellard of the Round Church, Cambridge interview
- The New World Tapestry, the project and its coverage by BBC TV (footage courtesy of BBC West)
During December 2018 and into 2019 we will be progressing our ideas for a DVD of the Mayflower story from 1516 to 1620.
We will be posting regular updates on our research work and interviews with people we meet.