Friday, December 15, 2017

Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ The Mayflower leaves Plymouth, England

Along the Pilgrim Trail, Part 22

The Plymouth Steps, where the Mayflower left England for the New World

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 there will be only one more blog post for this series.

Like the Pilgrims, after our stop in Dartmouth, we stopped in Plymouth.  It was a rainy, windy day and I wondered if perhaps the Pilgrims had the same weather.  Bradford forgot to note the weather in his famous journal.  Perhaps in 1620 Plymouth was a small town, but today it is a very large city in Devonshire.  It is a large naval base, with a fortified wall and dockyard.  Like nearby Dartmouth, it was an embarkation point for D-Day. 

The area where the Mayflower embarked for the New World is called the Barbican, and the memorial on the waterfront is called “The Mayflower Steps”.  The city of Plymouth is planning to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020 with much urban development and waterfront improvements. It is a huge tourist destination for beaches and sailing. 

On the Barbican are many Pilgrim related sites to see including the Mayflower Steps, the Mayflower Museum, and The Black Friars Gin Distillery where it is believed some of the Pilgrims and passengers dined before leaving Plymouth.  There were many other shops and buildings along the Barbican, like the Pilgrim Ice Cream shop with a list of Mayflower passengers posted on the outside wall! 

There were many plaques near the Mayflower Steps for the Mayflower, and also for several other historic sailings.  It was interesting to learn that the ships that sailed for the Roanoke Colony in Virginia left from this spot on 27 April 1584.  Also, the Sea Venture left from this spot in Plymouth in 1609, carrying passengers to Jamestown, including the future Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins.  The Sea Venture shipwrecked at Bermuda, but Hopkins eventually made it to Jamestown, and then back to England again.  There was also a plaque commemorating the transport ships Friendship and Charlotte, which left here in 1787 with convicts bound for Australia.  They landed with nine other ships at what is now Sydney, New South Wales, making these ships the equivalent to our Mayflower.  

The Pilgrim Steps Memorial in the rain

"Now all being compact together
in one ship they put to sea again
with a prosperous wind..."
This railing at the Mayflower Steps quotes Bradford's journal
and continues with "... As one small candle may light a thousand,
so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation...
Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their
knees and blessed the God in heaven."

The Mayflower Museum is just across the street
from the the Mayflower Steps
The Mayflower Museum has two floors of
exhibit space and a first floor gift shop.

Pilgrim Ice Cream shop

The passenger list on the outside wall

After leaving the Speedwell at Plymouth, and boarding 102 passengers for the New World, the Mayflower left Plymouth harbor on 6 September 1620.  She made her crossing in 66 days and arrived at Cape Cod on 11 November.   And you know the rest of the story!

Stay tuned for my last blog post, which is about the return of the Mayflower to Rotherhithe, London, England in 1621.

Mayflower400 UK  

Other blog posts in this series:
Part 1 of this series "Babworth, Nottinghamshire":

Part 2 of this series "Scrooby Manor"

Part 3 of this series “Gainsborough, Lincolnshire”:

Part 4 of this series "Harwich, Essex, home of the Mayflower"

Part 5 this series "Stephen Hopkins of Upper Clatford, Hampshire"

Part 6 of this series "William Mullins of Dorking, Surrey"

Part 7 of this series “Edward Winslow of Droitwich, Worcestershire”

Part 8 of this series "The Fullers of Reddenhall, Norfolk":

Part 9 of this series "John Howland of Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire":

Part 10 of this series "Tilley and Sampson of Henlow, Bedfordshire":

Part 11 of this series "William Bradford of Austerfield, Yorkshire":

Part 12 of this series "Francis Eaton of Bristol":

Part 13 of this series "James Chilton, Robert Cushman of Canterbury, Kent, England":

Part 14 of this series "Fishtoft, Lincolnshire where the Pilgrims were betrayed":

Part 15 of this series "Boston, Lincolnshire, where the Pilgrims were jailed":

Part 16 of this series "Immingham, Lincolnshire to Holland":

Part 17 of this series “In Exile in Amsterdam”:

Part 18 of this series “St. Pieterskerk in Leiden, The Netherlands”:

Part 19 of this series "Touring Leiden":

Part 20 of this series "Delfshaven, Holland"

Part 21 of this series “Dartmouth, Devonshire”


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ The Mayflower leaves Plymouth, England”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 15, 2017, (  accessed [access date]). 

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