2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth to America. The original collection of 102 pilgrims were seeking greater religious freedom than was possible in England at the time. Plymouth was the final departure point before the fateful voyage across the Atlantic. Today, some 30 million American people can directly trace their lineage back to those original pilgrims.
The History of The Pilgrim Fathers
Originally, it was planned that two ships should make the crossing. The Speedwell was to come from Holland and was to meet up in Southampton with the Mayflower which was largely to take the English pilgrims. However, the Speedwell, developed leaks and despite efforts to make her seaworthy was declared unfit to sail shortly after they had left Plymouth. Having been forced to turn back, the passengers on the Speedwell were forced to crowd onto the Mayflower and it finally set sail on 16th September 1620.
Not all of those on board were strictly religious pilgrims. In order to finance the voyage the organisers had needed to agree trading terms with investors once the new colony was established. To that end, some of those on board were skilled workmen who were placed on board to assist with getting a trading colony up and running. These non religious passengers were known as "strangers", the religious passengers were either "separatists" or "saints" depending upon their precise religious beliefs.
Modern cruise ships like the Queen Mary can cross the Atlantic in just 6 days, the passengers on the Mayflower had to endure 66 days of torment with rough seas and Atlantic storms. However, they did eventually arrive in Cape Cod where they had intended to land and after a brief period of exploring began to establish a colony in what is today Plymouth Bay Massachusetts. Their exploration of the area revealed abandoned and deserted settlements where settlers and native Americans alike had perished during the period of "The Great Dying" and from warfare. The early settlers began to build mutually beneficial relationships with the native Wampanoag tribe on whose lands the pilgrims had settled but who had been decimated by the Great Dying. Relations were so cordial that at the time of the very first Thanksgiving in 1621, the 53 surviving pilgrims invited the tribespeople to join them. Sadly, later arrivals of colonists led to the destruction of this harmony and religious persecution, brutal repression and fresh waves of disease afflicted the settlers and tribes people alike.
Mayflower 400 celebrations
Not surprisingly, Plymouth in the UK will be the focus of major commemorative events but Torquay and The English Riviera makes an ideal base from which to enjoy these and much else that the South West has to offer. It is about a 40 minute drive away and offers a massive rnage of great value for money accommodation. Furthermore, in May and June of this year Torquay will also be the focus of the 75th anniversary of VE Day as it was from here and other southern ports that D Day embarkations took place which led to the final collapse of Nazi Germany a year later. Many service personnel from North America were based in Torquay prior to their departure for France. Torquay is also only about 30 minutes away from Dartmouth where both the Speedwell and Mayflower spent some time.
Check availability and rates for your Mayflower 400 commemorative trip to the south west of England
We have a variety of luxury self ctaering accommodation available at our Muntham Apartments and Town House. Please click here to check rates, availability and to book through our secure online booking system. You can also call is on +44 1803 292958.
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