The Mayflower 400 is the commemoration in 2020 of the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to America in 1620.
A National Compact has been formed by the 11 places in the UK that have connections to the ship, passengers and crew. The US and Holland are also participating in the activities so making this an international project. The objective of the Compact is to
“deliver a world-class series of events, public art and wider content that will commemorate this exceptional voyage and provide a major ongoing impact across the partnership, knitting together communities, inspiring creativity and culture, driving economic growth, and promoting understanding and education.
Mayflower 400 will champion the values of freedom, faith and personal liberty that informed the original journey, and which continue to be articulated in the special relationship between the UK, US and Netherlands. At the same time, the commemoration will recognise the impact of the Mayflower’s journey on Native American communities and address themes of colonialism and migration, providing an accurate, inclusive account of the Mayflower’s legacy.”
The UK locations involved in the project are:
- Austerfield – where the separatist leader William Bradford was born.
- Scrooby/Babworth – a key location of separatist many who met regularly at Scrooby Manor House.
- Gainsborough – home to a large number of separatists.
- Boston – departure point for Scrooby congregation when fleeing to Holland and the place where those caught trying to escape were tried.
- Immingham – place those who succeeded fleeing boarded ship to go to Holland.
- Worcestershire – home of prominent passenger Edward Winslow who later returned to England to serve Oliver Cromwell.
- Harwich – Mayflower was probably built here and her Master, Captain Christopher Jones originally lived there.
- Rotherhithe – home port of Mayflower and her Master from where she sailed to Southampton.
- Southampton – port where Speedwell (from Leiden) and Mayflower met up in July 1620 to be provisioned and crewed before their departure for America on 15th August 1620.
- Dartmouth – port where Speedwell put in for repairs (leaking badly) accompanied by the Mayflower before departing for America.
- Plymouth – after sailing 300 miles beyond Lands End further leaks in the Speedwell forced them to turn back for repair in Plymouth. Speedwell was abandoned and some Separatists transferred to the Mayflower. Those unable to find space on her returned to Leiden. The Mayflower departed 16th September 1620 and on 9th November 1620, they sighted land at Cape Cod. They spent some time exploring the area for the best place to settle before deciding on Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Each location in the UK as well as in Holland and the USA will be undertaking different activities before and during 2020.
The UK Compact has a number of teams focusing on different aspects of the project. One of these is the digital team who are looking at utilising the ways that new technology can help tell the story and engage with online audiences nationally and internationally. One example of this is the interactive digital map of the passengers and crew that can be seen here.
The team has been having monthly telephone conference calls since late 2016 to discuss and progress different ideas. All the calls have been audio recorded so they can be left in the project archives for future generations to access especially the 500th anniversary in 2120.
June saw a number of people gather at Southampton Solent University as the chosen location for members of the digital team to meet ‘face-to-face’ for the first time to discuss work-in-progress and look at co-operative project opportunities.
We also took time to interview some of the key players of the Mayflower 400 celebrations who were attending the workshop. Their interviews can be seen below.