Thursday, October 5, 2017

Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ Babworth, Nottinghamshire, England

Along the Pilgrim Trail, Part 1

All Saints Church, Babworth, Nottinghamshire, England

Vincent and I recently took the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Historic Sites Tour of England, Wales and The Netherlands along with 41 other enthusiast participants (known as "The 43").  We traced the footsteps of the Separatists and the Mayflower passengers and crew all around these countries with some amazing tour directors, guides, historians and authors.  We were given access to places off the usual tourist trails, and behind the scenes.  We had a wonderful time, and I will be blogging about it over the next few weeks.

I’ll start this blog series with our visit to Babworth in Nottinghamshire, England.  This is a tiny village located in the middle of Sherwood Forest, or what is left of it.   The All Saints church used to sit on The Great North Road which lead from London to Scotland.  This was a busy road, and the church was the center of the village.  At some point in time, the road was moved away from the church.  It now sits alone in the middle of the forest, surrounded by trees and greenery, looking like it did when it was first built 900 years ago.  The village life has moved away to the road a mile away in the village of Retford.

The old road outside of All Saints church
It looks like it would have looked in the time of
William Brewster, or even Robin Hood!

Yours Truly in front of the
All Saints Church

Why did we visit Babworth?  No Pilgrim Father was ever born or lived there.  But the seeds of the Plymouth Colony were planted here by Rev. Richard Clyfton, who preached at All Saints church between 1596 and 1605.  William Brewster and William Bradford (in his teens) used to walk all the way from their homes in Scrooby Manor and Austerfield (a distance of about 12 miles) to hear him preach about ideas that formed the Separatist’s faith.  Clyfton was excommunicated in 1607, and was persecuted for his beliefs.

Rev. John Robinson, pastor to the Pilgrims, became Clyfton’s assistant at Babworth, and followed him to the secret meetings at Scrooby Manor.  Later, both Clyfton and Robinson went in exile to The Netherlands.  William Bradford, William Brewster and others followed them.

Sue Allan talked about the history of Clyfton at Babworth

Mayflower descendants exploring the church

And so we toured All Saints Church with author Sue Allan and members of the Babworth congregation. They gave us a warm welcome, and a talk about the history of this historic spot.  It was one of the first stops on our two week tour, and the first one I wanted to blog about since it sets up the rest of the Pilgrim story so well.  This quiet little church in its picturesque setting was the first step in establishing an important part of American history!

Clyfton died in 1616, four years before the Separatists decided to leave The Netherlands and come to the New World.  Robinson became their pastor, yet when the Separatists boarded the Speedwell in Delfshaven to sail away and join the Mayflower in Southampton, England, he stayed behind with the rest of his flock in Leiden.  Brewster and Bradford left for New England with the Pilgrims, and rest is history.  This is why I thought it would be nice to make our stop at Babworth the first post in this blog series.

"All Saints Church, Babworth, Nottinghamshire, England, whose congregation
became Separatist July 11, 1588 (When the Rev. Richard Clyfton became
minister) and remained so until 1604.  Elder William Brewster, who was the
spiritual leader of Plymouth in New England, until his death in 1643-44, and
William Bradford, second governor and historian of Plymouth, worshipped here
until the Separatists moved to Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, in 1606, to
Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1608, to Leyden in 1609, and to Plymouth, New England,
in 1620.
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (USA 1897)
Waldo Morgan Allen     Governor General
On their first pilgrimage by planes - to the Netherlands and England
September 22 - October 6, 1955
335 years after the sailing of the Mayflower."
The churchyard at All Saints, Babworth

Also of interest to Americans, another rector at Babworth’s All Saints church was Frank Wilberforce, who was a descendant of William Wilberforce, the abolitionist in England who led fight to abolish slavery. The fantastic film Amazing Grace, about the life of William Wilberforce, was released in 2007, on the 200th anniversary of the abolishment of slavery in England.

The Separatist Inn
Just for fun, we at lunch that day at the Separatist Inn, in nearby Torworth, on the Great North Road. We were treated to a lovely buffet by Sue Allan and members of the Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association.  The mayor came to greet us.  There were six rooms for rent above the dining room, each named for a famous Mayflower descendant – such as Marilyn Munroe, George Eastman, Katherine Hepburn or Richard Gere.

At our luncheon inside the Separatist Inn

In the next episode I will write about Scrooby Manor…


The Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association 

The Separatist Inn, Torworth 

A short YouTube video of All Saints Church, Babworth, with the bells ringing:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ Babworth, Nottinghamshire, England", Nutfield Genealogy, posted October 5, 2017, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. It's going to be a lot of fun following along on your travels through Mayflower ancestor history. Thank you for the background and photos!

  2. How wonderful! I had no idea that this was the same church of William Wilberforce, who I had learned about long before watching the movie, Amazing Grace. Thanks for taking us on this journey, Heather!

  3. Heather,
    Thank you so much. Reading your blog is like being on the road again. Sandy St. Martin