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Mayflower - Exploration of England

It’s time to explore; the 400-year old story of the Mayflower and its expeditious emergence on US shores. Wherever your interest lies on this matter; be in ancestral, historian or indeed coincidental timing of your trip across the Atlantic, we invite you to explore the Mayflower 400 Trail. Visit locations marking the route of the ‘Separatists’, a group of men, women and children who fled from England in a religious struggle, setting out on a perilous journey aboard the Mayflower - the rest as they say is history.You can expect to uncover a totally different side of the country, areas so often overlooked, meet ‘the people’ and share ‘in’ the story. All this mixed in with what you would expect to find over your time there - with visits to the Shard in London, the Eden Project and a delightful afternoon tea all included along the way. 

  1. Day 1 Arrival North of England So, it’s to the North where the seeds of the story begin. Arrive in Manchester Airport, a new inbound gateway for travel or alternatively London Heathrow. Transfer to your hotel which will be your base for the next three nights.
  2. Day 2 Pilgrim Roots Villages Travel totally off the beaten track today to the northern English villages where the pilgrim roots are found. Accompanied by an insightful guide, you will visit Scrooby, Babworth, Austerfield and Gainsborough. Typical quaint English villages with a story that is not so typical.

    Your guide will transport you back in time! In Scrooby, visit the grounds of the Manor House, former home of William Brewster, a senior elder of the group; this place is where the local Separatist congregation met in secret. From Babworth Church sprang Parson Richard Clifton, who would also play a leading role in the movement. The tracks of the Great North Road, which the group travelled so well, are still visible from here. In Austerfield, links include St Helena’s Church and ‘Butten Meadow’, finishing at Gainsborough Old Hall. A fine example of a large timber framed medieval manor house, which was home to the Hickman family who were sympathetic to the Separatist movement and allowed regular meetings to be held here. Back at the hotel this evening for a drinks reception; a great chance to get to know the rest of the group and mingle with the guide of today, perhaps sharing your own personal Mayflower interest.
  3. Day 3 Boston, Lincoln & Magna Carta Now visit the market town of Boston, name-sake to its counterpart city in Massachusetts and scene of the first attempt by the Pilgrims to escape to Holland. Over a third of Bostonians would eventually make their way to America and go on to help in the formation of what stands today as Harvard University. In Lincoln, savour the chance to see the 1215 Magna Carta, one of the most celebrated documents in history.

    Morning guided visit to Boston Guildhall and its museum it’s the place where the Pilgrims were held and tried after their unsuccessful attempt to flee. Your next point of interest is Boston ‘Stump’, the church of St Botolph. Your guide will explain that it was here that Rev John Cotton attracted people from far and wide to hear his sermons challenging the established church. Later some 300 strong Bostonians, a powerful and well-educated group, would immigrate to America. There they would help shape the colony, establishing the first American school and paving the way for education. Further points of interest would include Scotia Creek memorial, just outside of town.

    This afternoon travel to Lincoln to visit the castle for a guided tour and viewing of the Magna Carta inside Lincoln Castle. Upon Lincoln’s cobbled streets you’ll see the spires of Lincoln Cathedral, once the tallest building in the world.
  4. Day 4 Harwich Travelling southeast, stop in Harwich, the place where the Mayflower Ship is thought to have been built. Apart from its strong Mayflower links you’ll uncover lots of charming local history and quirkiness in this harbour port.

    Enjoy a guided walk in town, hearing the story and seeing the sights of Christopher Jones, a native of these parts and Master Mariner of the Mayflower. The compact layout of Harwich allows you time to grab some lunch and stroll at leisure to other touristic sights such as the lifeboat museum, restored Victorian train station or perhaps the docked pirate radio ship!

    Continue this afternoon for a final visit to Harwich Redoute Fort. This anti-Napoleonic circular fort commands the harbour with eleven guns on battlements. It is also greatly used as a local history exhibition where you’ll read fascinating accounts from other events such as the welcoming on British soil of the Kinder transport children. Rescued from the regime of World War II but separated from their parents - a truly emotional encounter in Harwich. Travel onward to London this evening.
  5. Day 5 London Rotherhite & Southwark Take in the iconic highlights of south London alongside some of its hidden highlights, as we deepen our exploration of the Mayflower’s London links. Relax on the cobbled streets of Rotherhithe along the southern banks of the River Thames as your guide recalls its part within the Mayflower story. Go sky high at The Shard and down to the depths of the Brunel Museum on this unforgettable day out in London.

    Commence this morning with a stroll through Borough Market at leisure; see the variety of food stalls offering high quality fayre at the foot of Southwark Cathedral. Continue to ‘The Clink’, a former medieval prison dating back to 1144, one of England’s oldest and notorious prisons. It was here those refusing to obey the religious laws of Elizabeth I would find themselves. Indeed, clerics such as John Greenwood and Henry Barrowe, whose ideas would have inspired the Pilgrims, both spent time here.

    Afternoon arrival in Rotherhithe where you’ll find a sleepy old inn that happens to be the oldest pub on the Thames – The Mayflower. Enjoy lunch within its cosy interior and don’t forget to sign the Mayflower Descendants Book tucked away inside - if you are one of those 30 million Pilgrim Descendants!

    Afterwards take in St Mary’s Church where Master Mariner Christopher Jones was based, his children baptised, and he is now buried. It’s believed the reverend may well have influenced Jones’ decision to make the voyage. Just across the road and slightly off subject lies the Brunel Museum, inside hear how this engineer-come-show man-come-impresario achieved the great feat of constructing the first underground tunnel across the Thames. The marvellous Thames Tunnel was one of the most important of its time in the world; it included a shopping arcade and fairground.

    An evening champagne visit to The Shard, London’s ultimate viewing platform, caps off the day and leaves you perfectly positioned to further explore the South Bank.
  6. Day 6 London After breakfast, equipped with a pub passport*, set out on a day of leisure in London - free to pursue your own areas of interest (advanced tickets to visitor attractions can be arranged prior by request).

    *voucher for lunch at participating traditional British Pubs throughout the city
  7. Day 7 Southampton It was the port city of Southampton that the Separatists choose to take shelter and comfort as provisions were made for the Speedwell (carrying the adjoining group from Leiden, Netherlands) and Mayflower ships in readiness for their voyage. Have a truly comforting stay at the Botleigh Grange Hotel & Spa and indulge in the delightful English tradition of afternoon tea. Afterwards, set out on a guided walking tour, with a difference, of Southampton Old Town, hearing the light-hearted adaptation of the Pilgrim Story.
  8. Day 8 Dartmouth Having set out from Southampton, the Pilgrims made an emergency stop at Dartmouth, to repair the leaking Speedwell. Dartmouth’s Town Crier will be your host as you explore the beauty and heritage of this seafaring spot.

    The port itself is overlooked by the imposing Britannia Royal Naval College, where it is said that Prince Philip met the then Princess Elizabeth. A walk through Dartmouth’s streets reveal an eclectic mix of castles and forts, ancient buildings and museums many dating back to the 16th century. Enjoy a visit to Dartmouth Castle before embarking on a return steam rail journey (accessible via River Dart foot-ferry) through stunning landscapes including the English Riviera.
  9. Day 9 Plymouth The sight of Plymouth to the Pilgrims, having spent six weeks at sea, would have been a welcome one to say the least as they retreated to England. Here they received a warm welcome from the locals with strong puritan sympathies. Today the port of Plymouth celebrates this encounter and warmly awaits your arrival; walk in the footsteps of the Pilgrims along this the port city that neighbours the county of Cornwall, final departure point of the Mayflower.

    Start this morning with a guided Mayflower Walk past buildings that would have been familiar to the Pilgrims still surviving to this day. You’ll see the charming Barbican area of Plymouth’s original port; then descend the famous Mayflower steps onto the jetty where you will embark on a cruise of the bay, seen just as the Pilgrims did.

    Later return to shore to visit a local gin distillery for a tour and tasting. Distilling since 1793 but prior to that ‘The Refectory’is believed to be the room where the Pilgrim Fathers spent their last night before setting sail for the New World.
  10. Day 10 County Cornwall This Celtic corner of England holds its own identity and there is much more that’s worth exploring in the Cornwall area - a half day guided coach tour of the region will give you a flavour. Afternoon visit, and lunch stop, at one of the world’s most highly regarded ecology biodomes reflecting the flora from all the different climates of the world set apart - The Eden Project.
  11. Day 11 Farewell And so, the journey comes to an end; over ten nights in total this Mayflower - Exploration of England has set out to deepen your appreciation of this fascinating story in Anglo-American history and provide you with a chance to see the England of today both traditional and modern - quaint and quirky - its people and its places, an eclectic and eccentric mix.

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