Mayflower 400

Mayflower 400

Mayflower 400 commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing from Plymouth to America, carrying the pilgrims who founded the modern United States. In 2020, this significant moment in history will be commemorated with a series of events and projects which explore the history and legacy of the Mayflower story.

Plymouth (UK) has been named by the government as the lead city for Mayflower 400, and the other UK Mayflower 400 destinations have signed a Modern Day Compact recognising Plymouth as the national lead for this significant project.

4degreeswest will continue to update this page as Mayflower 400 events are announced, and a Mayflower 400 guide is planned for you to download free.


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The Mayflower and Speedwell were 300 miles clear of Land’s End when the smaller ship once more began leaking badly and couldn’t risk continuing. They turned about for Plymouth.

By this time, the cramped, damp and miserable passengers had already spent up to six weeks at sea basically getting nowhere, with a fair wind and good fortune they would have hoped to be closing on their destination by then. The Speedwell was finally declared unfit for the journey. Some of the Pilgrims dropped out; the remainder crowded onto the Mayflower, which required re-provisioning, despite funds running low.

She left on 16 September with up to 30 crew and 102 passengers on board. Just under half of them were Separatists, the rest were ‘economic migrants’ – skilled tradespeople sent by the investors to help build the new colony.

It is believed the Pilgrims received a warm welcome in Plymouth. Those that did not live on board ship probably stayed in or visited houses around the quay such as Island House and the Elizabethan House. These buildings still stand today.

Island House, situated on Southside Street, dates from between 1572 and 1600 and is reputed to be one of the houses the Pilgrims were entertained in prior their departure for the New World.

The Elizabethan House, situated on New Street, was called London House when it was built in the 1580s. It may have been the Plymouth offices of the London Company of Virginia. Today it is called the Elizabethan House because it was built in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Protestant community were also sympathetic to the Pilgrims cause. Plymouth had a long Protestant tradition and the port had been previously used as a base for fighting Protestant England’s war against Catholic Europe.

Furthermore, Plymouth people were deeply interested in the Pilgrims destination. When the Speedwell and Mayflower anchored in Plymouth, many families in the town had seen their men sail off to fishing grounds in New England and Newfoundland. They were probably aware too that the end of August was too late to set sail across the Atlantic and their men were due to return home.

The ship-builders in Plymouth said the Speedwell was unfit to cross the Atlantic, the Mayflower would therefore have to travel alone. There was not enough room for everyone on board one ship but, by then, some Pilgrims had already lost heart or were simply too weak and sick to continue the journey by sea
Visiting Plymouth

Plymouth – Britain’s Ocean City

Plymouth has a reputation as a centre for voyage, discovery and military importance. For more than a thousand years the spectacular waterfront has been a port of call or point of departure for adventurers, emigrants, merchant traders, soldiers and sailors. Including of course the departure point of the Mayflower, marked by the Mayflower Steps.

The stunning views over Plymouth Sound from the Hoe will literally take your breath away. Take a boat trip our into the Sound – as the Pilgrims did – for amazing views back over the city.

Plymouth today is a melting pot of historical sites, memorials and museums – alongside a vibrant cultural scene, stunning places to eat and some of England’s finest beaches are never far away!

Sightseeing in Plymouth is easily done of foot – explore the Barbican, Sutton Harbour, Royal William Yard and the Hoe. Volunteer tour guides ‘One Small Candle’ offer a friendly meet and greet service and act as Pilgrim Ambassadors.



Mayflower 400

Mayflower 400 Commemoration August 2020

August 1620 saw the Pilgrim Fathers, in their two ships, The Mayflower and The Speedwell depart from Bayards Cove in Dartmouth for the New World America. Unfortunately, the Speedwell started sinking 300 miles off Lands End and they all returned to Plymouth. the Mayflower continued the journey alone to America and created history.

Dartmouth is one of the eleven towns participating in the National Mayflower Partnership and, throughout the 12 months from Thanksgiving November 2019, will be commemorating the 400 year anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower with a series of exciting events. These events will involve the whole town and we hope will leave a lasting legacy well beyond 2020.

Events being planned in Dartmouth for Mayflower 400 include;

Mayflower Opening event; 21st November 2019
Grand Dart River Pageant; 30th August 2020
Visiting Warships, Tall Ships, Mayflower Replica; 30th August ñ 5th September 2020
BRNC Mayflower Son st Lumiere; 5th September 2020
Mayflower Closing Event; November 2020

To find out more information and see a full timetable of event and dates visit

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