As part of our work for the Mayflower 400UK project we are planning to produce a video about the Pilgrims and the historical background that prompted them to flee England for Holland in 1607/8 before then sailing to America in 1620 via Southampton and Plymouth.
Before any video production is undertaken significant research has to be done and experts consulted. Part of that research has been into the role of Southampton provisioning the Mayflower and her sister ship the Speedwell in Southampton. The Mayflower, which had been chartered for the journey, sailed from Rotherhithe with non-separatist passengers and all their possessions. The Speedwell, which had been purchased by the Separatists, sailed from Holland to rendezvous with the Mayflower in Southampton.
The Mayflower was due to return to England after unloading her passengers, their belongings and the supplies. The Speedwell was to stay in America and become the the settlers trading ship. Provisions for the settlers were purchased from local merchants in Southampton. According to some stories repairs had to be carried out to the Speedwell in Southampton as she had developed a leak while sailing over from Holland. That leak was eventually to lead to the Speedwell being abandoned in Plymouth, England with as many people as possible transferring to the Mayflower. The Speedwell passengers returned to Holland and made the journey on later ships. Some never tried again.
It is possible some members of the crew were recruited in Southampton. Mayflower passenger John Alden‘s family lived in Southampton. He was hired as a cooper (barrel maker) to store the provisions on-board the ship. With his carpentry skills Alden also had a contract to stay in America to help construct the settlement buildings.
As part of that research we found a photograph of large scale model of the Mayflower was held by Bassetlaw Museum. The picture (see above) shows a large scale model on display in Retford Market Square on 30th November 1985 – which would have been the 365th anniversary of her sailing from Southampton and then Plymouth to America.
The Pilgrim Roots team from Bassetlaw are trying to find out if any local people remember seeing the Mayflower replica model, have information about who built it and what happened to it.
They handed out an information request flyer (see below) at the Religious Tolerance Forum which was held at The Well, Retford on 10th March 2018.
If anyone reading this has information or additional photos of the Retford Mayflower please can they advise Pilgrim Roots via their web site contact form or let us know and we will advise them.
Stop press: March 23rd 2018 – At the public meetings further information was provided that explained that the construction of the replica was part of a Youth Training Scheme. After display the boat was being stored temporarily in Worksop before it was lost to a fire.