This is the year the city of Plymouth, England celebrates Mayflower 2020, the fourth centenary of the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers to “the new world”, in search of religious freedom. It is also being celebrated in other cities including Plymouth, Massachusetts where they landed in 1620 and went on to colonise the USA.
For some 2020 is a year they would prefer to forget given the coronavirus pandemic, it’s beastly death toll and the challenges of lockdown. However, let’s not forget the extraordinary example the Pilgrim Fathers set for us all those years ago, to embark on a dangerous voyage to create a better world for themselves where they could practice their faith unhindered. It was this voyage on the Mayflower that led to the creation of one of the greatest nations on earth and today still stands as a bastion of religious freedom.
If you’ve ever visited the harbour in Plymouth you will have seen the Mayflower Steps from where the Pilgrim Fathers departed on 16 September 1620. You will notice the UK and US flags flying side by side marking the ongoing close relationship between the two nations. This is good enough reason to celebrate Mayflower 2020, but we can also be inspired by the tenacity and fortitude of all the missionary pioneers who sailed on that majestic vessel and the impact they have had on the world.
Visit the official Mayflower 2020 site to find out more about the extraordinary journey of the Pilgrim Fathers. The journey actually stared with two ships, the Speedwell which came from Holland and the Mayflower which docked in London, Southamption, Dartmouth and Plymouth. The two ships started out together from Plymouth but had to turn back as the Speedwell wasn’t seaworthy. The Mayflower finally left Plymouth on 16th September 1620, with 30 crew and 102 passengers on board. After 66 days at sea, it arrived on 26th December 1620 in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. The photo below shows a replica of the ship docked in the USA.
The Mayflower 2020 site also lists the events being hosted across the UK by the international Mayflower Compact partnership which was created to coordinate events in key places along the Pilgrim Father’s voyages including the Netherlands, UK and USA. Unfortunately due to lockdown some are no longer taking place or have been postponed.
“The commemorations will recognise the impact of the Mayflower’s journey on Native American communities and address themes of migration, tolerance, freedom and democracy that have such contemporary relevance, as well as the long-standing relationship between the UK and the US and the history of Thanksgiving, ensuring the Mayflower’s legacy lives on,” the site says.
“There are over 35 million descendants of the passengers and crew who sailed on the Mayflower. The Mayflower UK national visitor project aims to reach out to these descendants and other ancestral tourists to invite them to visit England.”
If you have never visited England’s ocean city of Plymouth, you will be fascinated by it’s rich heritage and the historic link it represents between the UK and the USA.