The END of the ANNIVERSARY Year 

The 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sailing is drawing to a close. What a year it’s been! Not at all as we had imagined, but truly historic nonetheless. We're so grateful to all our partners, volunteers, Heritage Lottery players and everybody who's joined in our events and activities in this strange time. We thought we’d share with you some of our highlights from the year, and some of our hopes for 2021. 


In spring, we were developing our offer to local schools, running sessions from Bassetlaw Museum and Gainsborough Old Hall. We also attended Babworth Church's Snowdrop Festival to share the Separatists' story and information about the project with visitors that weekend. 

Then, as covid-19 restrictions came into force, both Bassetlaw Museum and Gainsborough Old Hall had to close. We used the time to think about how we could deliver more of our activities online, and encouraged people to engage with heritage safely however they could – online, or by visiting the sites on the Pilgrims Trail. We took part in Mayflower 400’s Virtual Voyages, to tell our region’s story on an international stage.


In Summer, despite covid-19 restrictions, there was a lot happening!

We reopened Bassetlaw Museum and the Pilgrims Gallery with new safety precautions, which meant no object handling, and no costumes for children to try on! But, the re-opening did mean we could go ahead with our planned 'Journeys' Open Art Exhibition in the Percy Laws Gallery. We also set to work filming our Where It All Began video series, so people who had planned to visit this year could see the places the pilgrims knew. Our planned PilgrimAGE events became a series of blogs telling the Separatist’s story chronologically, and you can catch up with those on our news page.
September 16th was the anniversary of the Mayflower setting sail from Plymouth, and we received lots of media attention from radio and news stations across the region, and we were part of the Dan Snow Mayflower documentary and a special episode of BBC Songs of Praise
We were also busy supporting North Notts. Lit Fest and Heritage Open Days in September. Both of these events became week long online festivals, reaching amazing numbers of people around the globe. This year, the theme was Journeys, and so fit into the Mayflower anniversary as we shared extracts of stories from the Pilgrims Gallery and William Bradford bookbench. Content from both festivals can be found on the Pilgrims Gallery YouTube channel. On the anniversary date of the Mayflower sailing, North Notts. Lit Fest hosted local author and historian Adrian Gray for an evening of lively conversation.


In the autumn, we released our Where It All Began video series which received a wonderful response and a lot of interest from destination partners, local audiences and Mayflower descendants. We began to make plans for how we could deliver Illuminate from home, and had a great success with our #OneSmallCandle campaign.  Despite inclement weather, a stunning performance was given by Manor Opera in the lovely grounds of Scrooby Manor in October - we're looking forward to future musical events with the team!
As part of the annual Pilgrims Festival, we were also able to work with Bassetlaw Christian Heritage to bring the Babworth Arts Festival online. We had fantastic submissions from a range of artists - and the art and entertainment are still available to view here.
We also began delivering video-link sessions to schools in Nottinghamshire and America from the Pilgrims Gallery. Plus, our pilgrim handling boxes were fully-booked out by local primary schools who could not come for their planned visits due to Covid rules. During Autumn, we also released new audio podcasts for the Pilgrims Trail, created with local volunteers to improve accessibility.


The pilgrim woman statue, created by Rachel Carter, was installed at Gainsborough’s historic waterfront in November. She marks the place where pilgrim women and children left the region on their way to Holland. We are pleased that a sister statue of the Pilgrim Woman will also be available for visitors to view in Doncaster for the next two years, and then eventually make its home in Bradford’s village of Austerfield. 
November’s Thanksgiving and National Day of Mourning are important dates in our calendar. We acknowledged them with a more honest reflection from the perspective of an imagined pilgrim character, and with a new story on our website bringing both narratives together.

Our latest story discusses the Pilgrims attitude to Christmas. In December, we joined with North Notts. Lit Fest again to deliver an online event with author & Journalist Richard Holledge, who has written a novel ‘Voices of the Mayflower’. 
In winter, the Pilgrims Gallery and Bassetlaw Museum had to close again. This meant opportunities to view our second Open Art Exhibition, 'Where It Began', were curtailed. But we have created a video tour so that you can admire the art from the safety of your home. Dr. Anna Scott also published a new children's book which tells the story of Mary Brewster of Scrooby and is available to purchase.


The future is still looking uncertain for many of us, but we will be working to deliver the activities we’d planned for 2021 and any we weren’t able to deliver this year – whether that is online or in person. We have a few dates in our diary already for delivering activities in Retford, Gainsborough and out in the pilgrim villages. The lessons learned and tech skills gained in 2020 will pay dividends if we have to return to plan B in 2021.

We’re planning to welcome representatives of the Wampanoag Nation to North Nottinghamshire in June. They will build a wetu (traditional dwelling) in Bassetlaw Museum gardens, work with local school groups to share stories and crafts, and be our guest speakers at a conference on acceptance. The visit was originally planned for summer of 2020, but will have equal resonance in 2021, the anniversary of the ‘first Thanksgiving’. We are grateful to Arts Council England, whose funding has made the Wampanoag Perspective project possible.

We can perhaps take encouragement from the fact that 1621 was a year that began with struggle and strife for the Pilgrims, but ended in celebration and hope for a better future. 

To keep up to date with our activities in 2021, please: check back in here; use the form at the bottom of this page to sign up to our newsletter; or follow us on social media @PilgrimRoots. To get in touch, please email or use the contact form on our contact page.

We'd like to thank everybody who supported our work this year, especially the National Lottery Heritage Fund.