HLF East Midlands invests in Mayflower initiative

Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands has given a grant of almost £450,000 to the Pilgrim Roots project, writes Angie Cronin.

The grant is part of a £776,00 investment in the Pilgrim Roots project – a partnership led by Bassetlaw District Council with support from West Lindsey District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and the University of Lincoln.

The money will help to tell the story of Mayflower Pilgrims William Bradford of Austerfield and William Brewster of Scrooby, who escaped religious persecution in the area in the early 1600s and eventually sailed on the Mayflower to America in 1620.

Bassetlaw District Council hopes the investment will help to put the region at the forefront of the Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020, which will mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.

The funding will help to create a Pilgrims Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum, Retford, that will tell visitors about the Pilgrims and the native Americans they encountered.

An enhanced Pilgrims Trail will be created, with new interpretation boards at eight key sites, along with a new website featuring history, ancestry, news and events.

The funding will also allow Bassetlaw District Council to employ two new members of staff for a three-year period to tell the story of how the Pilgrims’ journey began.

The heritage engagement officer will visit schools and groups, while the heritage support officer will work with tour operators and visitors to ensure churches are open, tour guides organised, transport arranged and hotel and restaurant facilities booked.

Councillor Jo White, deputy leader at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “At last we will have a fully staffed gallery dedicated to the Pilgrim story, from where we can signpost visitors around Retford on a mini-Pilgrim trail.

“This visitor experience is going to be greatly improved and will be a positive impact on our visitor economy. It will attract many new visitors to our area and gives US descendants who have previously visited a reason to return.”

Jonathan Platt, head of HLF East Midlands, added: “We are delighted to support this project that will resonate with visitors from both sides of the Atlantic, making Bassetlaw a prime destination as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower approaches.”

Pictured: St Wilfrid’s Church, Scrooby, by Samantha Mayling.