Pilgrim Roots

Discover Gainsborough’s Pilgrim Roots and its connection with the Mayflower story!

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Gainsborough has a special connection with the Mayflower story, as separatist movements who journeyed to America originated in this region.

A group of Separatists were thought to have worshipped in secret at Gainsborough Old Hall  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, considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval manor houses in Britain, is now a much-loved visitor attraction within the town and is open 7 days a week.
Times vary throughout the year, please check the English Heritage 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 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:

Where It All Began

Discover where it all began with churches in the Pilgrim Roots region and the remarkable stories of those who went on to sail with the Mayflower in 1620. Bassetlaw District Council has created a series of videos bringing these churches’ stories to life. Visit the YouTube channel to watch them online.

Learn more about the history below, or for more information about the Mayflower400 project please visit the Mayflower 400 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.

Upcoming Events

13 November 2021           Illuminate: Lanterns, fire garden and projections to close the Mayflower 400 Commemorations. Find out more.

For more events across the Pilgrim Roots region, visit the Pilgrim Roots website or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Latest News

There’s no news at the moment! For regular updates search for Discover Gainsborough on Facebook or Twitter.

Past Events

Flight of the Separatists

Families enjoyed a sun-soaked day of festivities at Gainsborough Old Hall on Saturday 17 July 2021 – as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower story was officially marked in the town. View our gallery here.

One Small Candle – Illuminate 2020

Thank you to everyone who took part in the 2020 Illuminate at home! Do take a look at some of the lanterns here – Illuminate 2020

Gainsborough’s Illuminate parade (2019) was the first to take place across the country, opening the commemorative year, and 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 Illuminate 2019:

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, please visit the Pilgrim Roots website.

Take a look the Mayflower 400 video below, which tells you about the locations in the Pilgrim Roots region.

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 on the Support Pilgrim Roots page.

Contact information

Tel: 01427 675162

Email: [email protected]

Mayflower 400