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Plymouth - 400th anniversary of Mayflower's departure

Today, 06 Sept, is the 400th anniversary of the ship Mayflower's departure -finally- after a few months of struggle trying to get away. (Plymouth, Devon 1620)

The majority of people on the ship were Brownists, a faction of separatist Protestants eventually known as Puritans in England and the Pilgrims in North America, for whom the Church of England was still not anti-Catholic enough; they took Calvinism to the HNL (hole 'nutha level) and royally pissed off their neighbors with their holier-than-thou convictions about the corrupt worldly entanglements of the Church.

For the previous couple of decades, after Archbishop Bancroft had decided to actually enforce English laws against sedition and separation, these Puritan congregations had been acting on the down-low, and some had moved across to Holland to put some actual physical separation to go with their communal and bureaucratic rejection of English custom.

Luckily for them, though, they had some profitable entanglements of their own with anti-monarchical business interests that were willing to underwrite their decision to turn their neighbors' desire to see them gone into a virtue by setting up a new commercial colony.

What markers have you visited in your tours of southeast coastal England around Plymouth, or in Leiden for that matter, that commemorate the departure of these folks?

Posted by
4293 posts

I love how I learn things here all the time. My poor pitiful history education (or my child’s mind) had never made the connection between Plymouth Rock and Plymouth, England...... Something to consider for a future trip!

Posted by
402 posts

A quick correction, Plymouth is in the Southwest.

I think there were celebrations originally planned in Southampton (there is a memorial here to the Mayflower and Speedwell, this is where the two ships met up and stayed for about 2 weeks prior to departure. They were doing some restoration work on the monument back in July. There may have been a celebration planned before COVID-19)

Posted by
3941 posts

I was doing some research on the celebrations being planned for Plymouth, MA. It was interesting reading and was to be a 3 day midweek trip. Oh well, thanks for the reminder Avi.

Posted by
11356 posts

We have been to the Pilgrim Museum in Leiden as well as to the flat marble or marker by the canal inscribed with names of those who left on the Mayflower for England and then on to North America. Leiden is such a gem to visit for many reasons.

Posted by
1467 posts

Thanks for the info on the Brownists. When I start my Genealogy through Ancestry DNA I had no idea of where it would lead because I knew of no immigration stories with cousins still in the old country. So it came as a great surprise because I didn't even consider that it was because the ancestors came here 400 years ago. It turns out that I am descended, along with thousands of others, from Edward Fuller, of the Mayflower Covenant, who with his wife died the winter of their arrival in Plymouth. I am descended through his elder son Capt. Matthew Fuller 1603-1676, who didn't come to the Plymouth Colony until abt 1640. His son Lt. Samuel Fuller, 1635-1676, (not to be confused with his Dad's younger brother Samuel who came on the Mayflower ) had daughter Abigail Ide Fuller 1670-1718, who married my direct line ancestor Isreal Stowell 1670-1725 of Hingham, Massachusetts. It is incredible how much real history has not been revealed. I learn something everyday.

Posted by
2532 posts

Tell us a little more, Suki, about the appealing spots in Leiden -- in the tips section, RS says it's only if you're spending over a week in the NL that you should put it in the itinerary.

Posted by
2877 posts

I agree with Suki about the charms of Leiden, and of the quirky little Pilgrim's Museum there as well. The town is a pretty little place to spend a day or two if you'd like to escape the bustle of Amsterdam.
Interesting factoid: the University of Leiden is where a young John Quincy Adams went to school while his father was minister to the Netherlands.

Posted by
8544 posts

Good grief. Wikipedia is not high on my list of sources.

I think this well meant post may be missing the mark on a few points. Many of those belonging to the religious component of the Pilgrims belonged to families that had undergone significant persecution by the Catholic Church/French government. They fled to the Netherlands, and then to Britain. They, unlike the Puritans, no longer believed it was possible to reform the existing church. They became “separatists”. They believed that only by separating from others and building their own society, could they achieve the church they felt was needed.

Posted by
1288 posts

I've seen the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth. It's a moderately interesting memorial, although the effect is undermined a little because no-one knows exactly where they went aboard so the sign just says "approximately here" or similar. There is a good Mayflower Museum across the harbour and you can also visit the building where some of the Pilgrim Fathers reputedly slept on their final night - it is a Plymouth gin distillery now and does a gin-themed tour. 

All the above is in the Barbican area of Plymouth which is one of the few parts of the city worth visiting. Much of the rest was badly damaged in the War and rebuilt with, to me, ugly 1950/60s concrete architecture. There is though the bombed out Charles Church, originally from the 17th century and now left as a memorial. Another church, the minster from the 15th century was also damaged in air raids and has the famous Resurgam door. Both buildings would have been there when the Pilgrim Fathers were, though I guess they'd have never gone inside since they were CofE thrn. Also worth visiting is the scenic Plymouth Hoe with the Citadel and various statues to naval heroes including, of course, Francis Drake who set out from Plymouth to thrash the Spaniards.

And whilst I'm apparently a day late in replying, in my defence 6th September was on the Julian calendar. So the actual quartercentenary is next week and I'm early!

Posted by
3813 posts

There is a tour company, Reformation Tours, that does tours of sites related to the Mayflower, in case anyone is interested.
"Specializing in Reformation, Cultural, and Mayflower-heritage Tours of Europe"

They have two Mayflower tours on this page,
and did have a 400th Anniversary tour that got postponed.
These tours are for 2021.

See the itinerary here:
Mayflower Anniversary Tour;
12-day tour in the footsteps of the Mayflower Pilgrims:

Mayflower Pilgrims: Beginning the World Anew, 1620 & 2020;
14-day tour in the footsteps of the Mayflower Pilgrims in the Netherlands and England.
This tour includes Leiden, Plymouth, Boston, and more:

They have many other tours listed which focus on the religious and cultural history of various countries. All reviews I have read of these tours (Trip Advisor) say they are excellent. They are highly recommended by Jonathan who is the publisher of Anglotopia magazine.

These tours do not duplicate the Rick Steves tours, nor are they a competitor of his tours.
If they were, I would not post them here.

Posted by
740 posts

So 3 years ago today I was standing in the Cutty Sark . But 400 years ago my great to the something Grandfather was standing on the Mayflower....

Posted by
4063 posts

The Pilgrim church in Rotterdam stands in the picturesque port district of Delfshaven, one of the few areas to escape widespread bomb damage in WW2.
Tracking religious affiliations on the Mayflower, and how the Dutch contingent got across the channel, is a complicated task.
Much easier to say that the church's neighbour is an attractive brewpub and dining room, De Pelgrim, worth the short commute from the centre of Rotterdam. Its building originated as a town hall more than five centuries ago.

Posted by
847 posts

I've been to Leiden which I highly recommend. I tried to go to the Plymouth Museum but it was closed when I was there.

I've been to Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts and also highly recommend that. In fact, I'm thinking of going again (it's been about 20 years since last visit, when my kids were little, they are now grown up). Was wondering if anyone has been there since the pandemic? Their website says their busiest time is weekday mornings due to school trips but I don't think too many schools are doing field trips at the moment. Anyone know if that's the case?