Pilgrim Heartlands Trail highlights stories about local Mayflower Pilgrims

A new Pilgrim Heartlands Trail has been produced jointly by Bassetlaw District Council and Doncaster Council.

Pilgrims Heartlands Trail image

The leaflet, available from local Tourist Information Centres, libraries and churches along the trail, and downloadable from Bassetlaw and Doncaster Council’s websites, covers the local villages in North Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire that are steeped in the history of William Brewster and William Bradford; a history that most local people are familiar with.  But this new Heartlands leaflet brings further, little known facts about the families that embarked on that seminal voyage aboard the Mayflower.

Until now, little has been told about the women and children who bravely followed their husbands, firstly to Holland and then on to America, but now,  thanks to research conducted by historian and tour guide Sue Allan, the Pilgrim Heartlands Trail adds previously unfamiliar named villages to this area’s history.  Villages such as Tickhill, Arksey and Braithwell in South Yorkshire join Clarborough and Carlton in Lindrick on the trail, and much more information has been discovered about Pilgrim Susannna White-Winslow and her connections to Scrooby Manor.

Sue Allan, Chair of the Pilgrim Fathers Origins UK Association, said “In the past, history books have focused upon the men connected to the story of the Separatists who became Mayflower Pilgrims  and with little attention being paid to that of the women.  Without the women, we have only half of the story and even after recent discoveries, I know that there is still much more to be revealed. I expect the Pilgrim Heartlands Trail will soon need a reprint!”

Bassetlaw District Council and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council have been working in partnership to promote the history of the Mayflower Pilgrims for over 10 years.  They are both founder members of Pilgrim Fathers Origins Association, the Mayflower 400 National partnership which was created to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims reaching America in 1620, and the regional Pilgrim Roots group, that aims to continue joint participation across county borders beyond 2020.

For those interested in finding out more about new information featured in the Heartlands Trial, Bassetlaw District Council is holding its annual Illuminate Event in Scrooby on Thursday 22nd November.  A service will be held at 5.00pm in St Wilfrid’s Church featuring a talk by Sue Allan and a recital from Scrooby Manor’s own Kamilla Dunstan.  This will be followed by a lantern parade through the village.  The event is open to all, please confirm your attendance by email to Sandra.withington@bassetlaw.gov.uk.


Pilgrim Trails: ‘Our bid has been submitted!’

Welcome to our second newsletter for the Pilgrim Roots Heritage Project – to download a copy of the newsletter click here or on the image below:

HLF Project Newsletter 2 Pilgrim Trails extract

Our Bid has been submitted!

On Friday 25th May the project team at Bassetlaw District Council hit the send button and electronically transferred the equivalent of four years hard work to the East Midlands Office of Heritage Lottery.

The Activity Plan alone is almost 200 pages of plans, statistics, projections and activities that will take place over the next three years.

We won’t know if we are successful until the end of September 2018 but we feel confident that, irrespective of the outcome, we have done everything we possibly could to show why HLF should invest in this ‘once in a century opportunity’ as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower reaching Plymouth Massachusetts approaches.

So are we planning to sit and relax over the summer?

Absolutely not! We have to be confident that our bid will be approved by Heritage Lottery and so we will be preparing tenders for contractors, getting job descriptions approved for two new members of staff, preparing media packs and all the other details that will enable us to hit the ground running as soon as we hear.

We will also be planning our very popular Illuminate events and more details of these will be revealed soon. Members of the project team will be out and about at events over the summer as part of Bassetlaw District Council’s Big Conversation Engagement Events.

Find us at Ranskill Scarecrow Festival, Kings Park 80th Birthday Celebrations in Retford and of course Scrooby Show. We will continue to publish this newsletter on a regular basis as we wait with baited breath!

Mayflower 400 Compact Meeting comes to North Nottinghamshire

The Mayflower 400 Compact Partnership is the national body that has been working towards the year-long programme of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims journey to the New World. Led by Plymouth, the partnership comprises 11 destinations in UK that have connections to the Mayflower story plus partners in Leiden, Holland and Plymouth, USA.

In the Roots region, Bassetlaw, Doncaster, West Lindsey, Boston and Immingham are partners . We meet regularly to discuss plans and share ideas such as putting joint bids together to Arts Council England for example, for touring exhibitions and large scale events for 2020. Bassetlaw District Council is delighted to host the June meeting of Mayflower 400 and the venue we have chosen is the delightful Hodsock Priory.

This is particularly appropriate as its owner George Buchanan is also Chair of North Nottinghamshire’s Business Improvement District who have identified Mayflower 400 as one of their key opportunities over the next 5 years – and this support is an important factor in our own HLF bid’s evidence of sustainability. We look forward to welcoming our partners from as far afield as Dartmouth, Worcester and Southwark to North Nottinghamshire.

What did we learn?

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in our consultation exercise. We engaged with over 2500 people in total at public events, parish council meetings, visiting schools and asking people to participate in on-line surveys. We really enjoyed talking to you and were overwhelmed by the positive support for the project.

We specifically asked if you liked our themes of MIGRATION, TOLERANCE and FREEDOM and this was a resounding yes. We asked what aspects of the story were you most interested in, to help us decide on interpretation at the museum, on trail boards and the website. You told us you wanted more emphasis on our own local stories and the events that led the Separatists to flee, firstly to Holland and then on to America.

And we also asked if you liked the design examples that will be the ‘brand’ for our Pilgrim Roots activities. They received very positive comments from our consultees. We plan to repeat these events once we know we have succeeded with our application as we look forward to showing you how proposals have changed into very definite plans.

Nottinghamshire County Council confirm £55k funding boost for Nottinghamshire PILGRIM heritage COMMEMORATIONS

Nottinghamshire County Council has pledged a further £55,000 for events to mark the county’s Pilgrim roots, as local and national plans are put in place to roll out the red carpet for an expected surge in visitors from the United States in 2020.

Councillor Kay Cutts, Leader of the Council said: “The 400th anniversary countdown of the Mayflower ship sailing from England and arriving in America provides an exciting opportunity for Nottinghamshire to commemorate its Pilgrim ancestors and to share their inspirational story with the world.

“Many places around the UK and further afield have links to the Pilgrims, but Nottinghamshire was the place where it all began. It gives me great pride that the amazing chain of events, which has had such a huge impact on American history, started right here in Nottinghamshire.

“Nottinghamshire is a place of legend, famous for its history and unique heritage. It is a place of ambition, where people are industrious, pioneering and creative. It is a place where business thrives, creating opportunities and prosperity.

“We have a fourfold vision for our county – to make it a great place to raise a family, to fulfil ambitions, to enjoy later life, and to start and grow a business. Against this backdrop, Nottinghamshire County Council is committed to ensuring our area’s contribution to the impact of the Mayflower’s journey is recognised and fully maximised for generations to come.”

The County Council is contributing £25,000 towards a Heritage Lottery Fund in support of activities led bid by the Pilgrim Roots Partnership, which includes the County and District Councils, tourism bodies and voluntary groups.

The partnership is hoping to secure £450,000 in Lottery funding for its ‘The Pilgrim Roots: The Separatists Story, Mayflower 400 and beyond’ project, which includes plans for:

  • a regional trail linking key Pilgrim heritage sites from Retford to Gainsborough;
  • a dedicated Pilgrim Roots gallery at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford;
  • a range of digital resources dedicated to the story, including a website, and;
  • nine interpretation panels located at key sites, with supporting Wi-Fi access.

A further £30,000 has also been committed for activities to mark Nottinghamshire’s wider association with the separatist’s story and religious heritage to add to the tourism offer around the 2020 anniversary. These include bespoke interpretation and exhibitions development at key sites, educational engagement in schools through a Thanksgiving themed school meal, and a Nottinghamshire-focused marketing campaign.

Councillor Cutts added: “The County Council has been working alongside local partners and in other parts of the country with Pilgrim links on exciting plans for the run-up to 2020 and “The 400th anniversary offers the potential for massive economic, tourism, educational and cultural benefits for Nottinghamshire, which the County Council is determined to maximise.”

Did you know?

Passenger William Mullins from Dorking was a shoemaker by profession. His baggage consisted of over 250 shoes and 13 pairs of boots.

In 1979 US Ambassador Kingman Brewster, a descendant of William Brewster, laid the foundation stone for Scrooby Village Hall. In 2015, Wrestling Brewster, 11th generation descendent of William, unveiled a plaque in the same Village Hall, marking his visit following in the footsteps of his ancestor.

Poor William Butten, who some think came from Austerfield, although this is unproven, was called “a youth” by Gov. William Bradford in his passenger list of the Mayflower. He left as a servant with the family of Dr. Samuel Fuller. He was the only Mayflower passenger to die during the voyage itself – just three days before land was sighted.


Pilgrim Roots HLF project newsletter: Pilgrim Trails

Welcome to our first newsletter for the Pilgrim Roots Heritage Project – to download a copy of the newsletter click here or on the image below:

HLF Project Newsletter 1 Pilgrim Trails
We will produce this publication on a regular basis as we chart our progress towards submitting a 2nd stage Heritage Lottery Bid which is entitled ‘Pilgrim Roots – The Separatists’ Story and beyond’.


The bid if successful, will allow Bassetlaw District Council and partners to create a Pilgrim Gallery in the former Tourist Information Centre adjacent to Bassetlaw Museum. In addition there will be an enhanced Pilgrim Trail with interpretation at 9 sites around Retford, Babworth, Scrooby, Sturton le Steeple, Austerfield and Gainsborough.

A role of Heritage Engagement Officer will be created and that person would be tasked with reaching out to schools, community groups and indeed anyone with an interest in the Pilgrim story. The Heritage Engagement Officer will take handling boxes and costumes so that people can really immerse themselves in a story which, although 400 years old, has parallels with challenges that many people continue to face today: migration, freedom and tolerance.

The Heritage Engagement Officer will be supported by a Heritage Support Officer, based at the museum who will assist visitors, making sure that churches are open, accommodation is confirmed and tour guides are booked. Additionally a new Pilgrim Roots website will pull together all of the new activities, information and events into one place.


Timescales for the HLF process are: submission of 2nd stage bid, May 2018 – decision September 2018. If we are successful, work will begin on the new gallery in October 2018 and will be completed in Spring 2019. The project will run until September 2021.

There is so much more we can say about the exciting plans we have as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower reaching Plymouth Massachusetts approaches, but we want to tell you in person and that’s why we are holding a number of CONSULTATION EVENTS where you can drop in, see our plans, fill in a survey form and generally give us your thoughts. As a Thank you to Heritage Lottery Players anyone coming to any of these events will be treated to a hot drink and biscuits on production of their lottery ticket.

Consultation Events

Tuesday 20 March 10.30 – 12.30 Bassetlaw Museum
Tuesday 20 March 13.30 – 15.30 Gainsborough Old Hall
Friday 23 March 15.00 – 19.00 Scrooby Parish Hall
Tuesday 27 March 15.00 – 19.00 Sturton-le-Steeple Village Hall
Saturday 7 April 10.30 – 12.30 Gainsborough Heritage Centre
Thursday 19 April 19.45 Grove Street Methodist Church (Bassetlaw Christian Heritage Meeting)
Monday 7 May 10.00 – 15.00 Retford Market (Charter Day)

The Pilgrim Roots Partnership

The wider partnership includes representatives from local authorities, tourism and corporate agencies from across the region, as well as community interest groups and other stakeholders. The partnership is open to all with a shared interest in promoting and upholding the aims and objectives of the Roots Partnership.

Our partners include:
• Bassetlaw District Council
• Boston Borough Council
• Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
• Lincolnshire County Council
• North East Lincolnshire Council
• Nottinghamshire County Council
• Transported
• University of Lincoln
• Visit Lincoln
• Marketing Nottinghamshire
• West Lindsey District Council

Meet the Project Team

Led by Sandra Withington from Bassetlaw District Council, Sandra is the overall Project Manager ably supported by Robert Wilkinson, overseeing building related works; Dr Anna Scott who is a heritage professional working for Bassetlaw and West Lindsey District Councils; Sam Glasswell, museum curator; and Sarah Cheng who brings previous experience of working on successful HLF projects.

Interpretation Consultants appointed

We are pleased to have appointed our Interpretation Team, who will be working on the 2nd Stage Heritage Lottery Bid with us. They are WideSky Design (digital media design), Querceus Design (interpretive and museum design) and Catherine Chroney (Strategic consultancy and storyline). Chris Parker from WideSky, Mike Oakenfull from Querceus and Catherine have worked together on a number of projects, most recently re-fitting visitor centres for the Peak District National Park. They have worked on a wide variety of projects – including museums, visitor centres, national parks and historic buildings. Past clients include the National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces, the Houses of Parliament, English Heritage and many charitable trusts.

An exciting NEW GAME is being created

Students from Sheffield Hallam University are working on a project to build a virtual reality experience about William Brewster and Scrooby Manor. Led by tutor
David Wilson, who lives in Ranskill and knows the area well, the students are re-creating the sitting room and a secret chapel where visitors or ‘gamers’ will be able
to pick up artefacts and find clues that will draw them into the VR experience. Dave says ‘It’s early days yet but the 3D art is looking great and our students are really interested and enthusiastic about the subject matter’. We can’t wait to see the results!

Did you know?

  • The Pilgrims clothes weren’t just black and white.
  • The Brewster family from Scrooby sailed on the Mayflower. The children had some interesting names: two girls named Fear and Patience, and three boys named Love, Wrestling… and Jonathan!
  • The Pilgrims from our area were Separatists – people who wanted to have their own church, and not be part of the state Church of England – at a time when this was illegal and forbidden.
  • Men from our region who sailed on the Mayflower signed an important document called the Mayflower Compact – it set out an agreement between the passengers to work together once they got to America – to ensure their survival. They ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time of year, and had to make their own agreement to come together as a ‘civil body politic’. The principles of this document were later said to have inspired the American Constitution.
  • There were 102 passengers on the Mayflower – 32 were children.
  • In 1955, a group of American descendants visited England and Holland and recorded their visit on plaques in Babworth and Scrooby – ‘On their first Pilgrimage – 152, by planes – to the Netherlands and England’ – similar plaques can be found across the country.
  • Thomas Bayard was the US Ambassador to the UK in the late 1890s – he laid a foundation stone at the John Robinson Memorial Church in Gainsborough, and was instrumental in getting William Bradford’s diary – which recorded the Pilgrims’ story – repatriated to the USA after it was found in the library at Fulham Palace in London.


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.

HLF result Babworth Church

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.