Pilgrim Roots HLF project: have your say…

Bassetlaw’s long held ambition to commemorate its rich Pilgrim history is one step closer following National Lottery funding support.

Have your say and find out more about Pilgrims’ heritage plans in Bassetlaw and West Lindsey in the public consultation that is now underway: complete our short survey online.

Bassetlaw District Council received initial financial support of £45,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in October 2017 for an ambitious project which will tell the story of the region’s early Pilgrims who left the area, initially fleeing to Holland, and then making the seminal journey aboard the Mayflower to Plymouth USA in 1620.

The Council is working in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, West Lindsey District Council, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and the University of Lincoln to develop the project.

Development plans are being prepared for a Pilgrim Roots Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford, and a re-developed 40 mile Pilgrim Roots Trail linking Retford to Gainsborough and associated villages.

The project, entitled Pilgrim Roots: The Separatists’ Story, will tell the inspiring tale about William Brewster, William Bradford and other influential pilgrims from Scrooby, Babworth, Austerfield and Sturton-le-Steeple. It will relay how their journey in pursuit of tolerance and freedom resonates with similar issues that still exist today.  More importantly, the story will be told in a modern way, dispelling the myths that ‘the Pilgrim Fathers’ were all old men, and introduce the role that women and young men played and critically will address the complex issues of the effect the Separatists settling in Plymouth had on the indigenous native population.

Development funding is being used to progress the project’s partnership plans to apply for a full grant in May 2018. If successful, each area currently being developed will be delivered as part of a three year Heritage Engagement programme with the Roots region.

An enhanced Pilgrim Roots Trail linked to digital resources will provide far-reaching opportunities for engaging communities and volunteers and attracting local, national and international visitors. New or enhanced interpretation will be developed at the churches and locations that would have been familiar to the Pilgrims. A comprehensive  programme of activities and events is planned for the duration of the project, particularly to mark the 400th anniversary in 2020.

Bassetlaw District Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Jo White said: “I am delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund recognises how important the Pilgrim Roots story is to the area.

“We led this application to HLF on behalf of a number of partners as diverse as West Lindsey District Council, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and University of Lincoln and this shows the passion and commitment of these organisations to create a lasting legacy from the 400thanniversary in 2020.  It gives us a platform to build on annual events such as Illuminate and our Conference on Religious Tolerance and we are confident that our communities will benefit greatly if we are successful with the full grant application.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “The story of the Mayflower is one of international significance, and has its roots in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. We are delighted that money from National Lottery players can help support the plans for this important anniversary, and we look forward to seeing the detailed proposals in due course.”

Commenting on the HLF announcement, Bassetlaw MP John Mann, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Mayflower Pilgrims, said: “Its great news that Heritage Lottery Fund are supporting stage one of the bid.  The roots of American democracy are founded in the very heart of Bassetlaw and this is a story that needs to be told. The year 2020 will soon be upon us and this funding will help begin this very important work.”

Bassetlaw District Council is a member of Mayflower 400, a partnership of 11 UK destinations, plus Leiden and USA that signed a Modern Mayflower Compact agreeing to work together in partnership towards a joint 400th commemoration of the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620.  The Mayflower 400 group meet regularly to work up national plans for a touring programme of events in 2020 including lectures, theatre, dance, exhibitions, sports, culture and heritage.