Pilgrim Roots

make a mayflower

Coronavirus Update: Many events and activities have been postponed or cancelled, and attractions, restaurants, pubs, theatres and other venues have also temporarily closed. We are working with the national organisers to find a suitable way forward. For regular updates find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Please still do explore these pages and discover the Mayflower story and its connections to Gainsborough and the Pilgrim Roots region. 

You can also follow our online PilgrimAGE campaign which will allow you to explore the history of the Pilgrims and their roots from the comfort of your own home. To follow the campaign, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter


2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth UK to Plymouth Massachusetts.

Gainsborough has a special connection to the Mayflower anniversary as separatist movements originated in this region that led them on their journey to America.

A group of Separatists were thought to have worshiped in secret at Gainsborough Old Hall – now regarded as one of the best preserved medieval manor houses in Britain – with the permission of its sympathetic owner, merchant William Hickman. Their preacher, John Smyth, was a strong influence on the Mayflower Pilgrims, and is generally considered to have later been a founder of the Baptist churches. The Hall is now a much-loved visitor attraction within the town and is open 7 days a week. Times vary throughout the year, please check their website before visiting.

The United Reformed Church in Gainsborough also stands as a memorial to John Robinson, pastor of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Robinson was one of the leaders in the planning of the voyage to America. Inside the church you can also visit the ‘Mayflower Room’ which is an impressive and informative display of the local history of the area’s Separatist ancestors, who played an important role during the historic voyage.

Leading Separatists in the Pilgrim Roots region

Many of the leading separatists came from this region of England. It was here that they formed their ideas and made plans to leave England for a new life in America.

Find more information about some of them below:

Pilgrim Roots links together Pilgrims’ heritage sites and history across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire allowing visitors to discover the rich heritage of the region. Find out more about the Pilgrims at the Pilgrims Gallery in Retford, see where some of attempted to escape from Boston or discover where they fled to Holland from Immingham.

To find out what’s happening in the region go to www.pilgrimroots.co.uk.

Take a look the Mayflower 400 video below that tells you about the locations in the Pilgrim Roots Region.

Learn more about the history below or for more information about the Mayflower400 project please visit their website. You can also download the Mayflower 400 app where you can enjoy free, self-guided walks and driving tours of each of the villages, towns and cities connected to the Mayflower.

In Gainsborough, you’ll discover a wealth of heritage and things to do. Explore the town’s fascinating heritage, discover arts and culture or find a great shopping experience including the award winning Marshall’s Yard.

Go to our Visit page to find out more.

Upcoming Events

The UK Government has advised against all non-essential travel. Any Mayflower related events taking place up until June 2020 have either been postponed or cancelled. For more information visit the Mayflower 400 website. For regular updates find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Join in with spectacular events that will commemorate this significant historical moment and discover fascinating places to visit throughout 2020. Read the Mayflower 400 2020 Programme.

10 May 2020  Flight of the Separatists at Gainsborough Old Hallthis event has been postponed. We will provide further information as soon as possible.

For more events across the Pilgrim Roots region go to their website.

Latest News

6 July     Schools’ Pilgrim Exhibition at Gainsborough Old Hall

12 July     Separation

19 July     Reunited

20 July     Virtual Reality Allows Audiences to experience the story of the Mayflower Voyage and its contemporary parallels

26 July     Immigrants

Gainsborough’s Illuminate parade (2019) was the first to take place across the country opening the commemorative year, inspired by the words of leading Separatist William Bradford who said: ‘As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.’

Look back at what happened at Illuminate 2019:

Support Pilgrim Roots

Calling all businesses! Research shows that England will experience a growing number of visitors from around the world over the next few years, coming to explore the history of the Pilgrims’ and their roots. Find out how you can help us welcome these visitors here.

Contact information

Tel: 01427 675162

Email: [email protected]

Pilgrim Line

Mayflower 400