Pilgrim Fathers

Babworth Church 630X630 017

The District of Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, has a wealth of heritage and history and the asset that Bassetlaw places significant importance on, is being the origins of the Mayflower Pilgrims, as it was here that the beginnings of religious Separatism can be traced. 

Three of the first four signatories to the Mayflower Compact came from North Nottinghamshire and the neighbouring county of South Yorkshire. This document is considered the earliest example of democracy in the United States and the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

It was in 1607 that two of the original separatists, a Scrooby postmaster named William Brewster and a parson from Babworth called Richard Clyfton, joined dozens of other religious pilgrims to start a new life in Holland and then in 1620 the pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower to America. William Brewster played a major part in founding the new society. You can retrace the footsteps of the Mayflower Pilgrims by following the Mayflower Trail, a circular tour of 38-40 miles visiting the historic villages and sites of Pilgrim Fathers’ Country.

Pilgrim Trails Newsletter

Issue one - Pilgrim Trails

A new publication, ‘Pilgrim Trails’ has been launched to chart the progress of Bassetlaw District Council’s Heritage Lottery Bid relating to the Separatists and the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims reaching America, which is in 2020.  A number of consultation events are being held across North Nottinghamshire and West Linsdsey District to show people the plans for a new Pilgrim Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum and an enhanced Pilgrim Trail taking in the villages of Babworth, Sturton le Steeple, Scrooby and Austerfield.  If you would like to receive a copy of the newsletter directly, contact Sandra Withington Sandra.withington@bassetlaw.gov.uk

Preparing for the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower Setting Sail

Signing of the Mayflower Compact in Plymouth, November 21st.  Photograph curtesy of Jane Williams, Fandango Media


In 2020 it will be 400 years since these brave pilgrims set out for America and Bassetlaw District Council is working closely with Mayflower 400, a national organisation led by Destination Plymouth , to make sure that this landmark anniversary is given the recognition it deserves. Mayflower 400 has 11 partner destinations, who all have links with the Mayflower story, including Leiden in Holland and a Plymouth 400 in United States (that also includes the native American Wampanoag Indians).  The group meets regularly to discuss national initiatives that can be shared amongst partners in the commemorative year spanning November 2019 until November 2020.



Lantern Parade MR 211117 111Illuminate is the signature event that is held at each of the destinations associated with Mayflower 400 and takes its name from a quotation from William Bradford: “just as one small candle may light a thousand, thus the light here kindled hath shone unto many.”  Illuminate generally takes place during the 4th week of November, coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday in United States.  Bassetlaw has celebrated Illuminate events since 2015, varying the theme and location each year and it is anticipated that the 2019 and 20120 Illuminate events will be spectacular.

Pilgrim Roots

To complement the Mayflower 400 partnership, a regional partnership entitled Pilgrim Roots has been formed.  Members of the Roots group include West Lindsey District Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Boston Town Council and a number of other interested organisations including Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and University of Lincoln.  The aims of this group are to work with national Mayflower 400 initiatives whilst ensuring that the unique story of the Separatist roots are not overshadowed by the story of the journey of the Mayflower ship.

Finding accommodation on the Mayflower Trail

Ye Olde Bell Hotel Barnby Moor Retford - 630X630 - 129


 The Hub, located at 11 Churchgate, Retford (www.retfordhub.org), tel: 01777860414  can provide information on accommodation around the Mayflower Trail area.  Also located within this building is the Mayflower Pilgrim Centre which is well worth a visit. Visit Nottinghamshire www.visit-nottinghamshire.co.uk is the website of the Destination Marketing Organisation for the county and this also provides details of hotels, dining and things to do across the county.




Booking a Tour of the Mayflower Trail

LR Mayflower 400 Conference Tour 005


Sue Allan of Pilgrim Tours, (www.mayflowermaid.com) winner of the Experience Nottinghamshire Excellence in Customer Service Award for 2014 is dedicated to providing specialised services for a wide range of customers – including people on vacation, students, families, schools, home-based education groups, church groups, and of course any of the five million known descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Pilgrims and Prophets (www.pilgrimsandprophets.co.uk) is another Retford based company providing tours of the Mayflower Trail in addition to a number of other specialised Christian Heritage tours within a 30-mile radius of Retford.