Mayflower 400 Southampton
Southampton was one of 12 partners delivering Mayflower 400 – an international programme of cultural and heritage activities in the UK, US and Netherlands inspired by the 400th anniversary of the ship’s sailing and successful settlement in the US. The Mayflower and her sister ship, Speedwell, set sail from West Quay, Southampton, on 15 August 1620, carrying 102 passengers. They settled in what had been the Native American village of Patuxet. The village had been abandoned by the Wampanaog people who lived there after the death of the majority of its inhabitants in a ‘great plague’ (1616 – 1619), brought by English and European invaders.
In Southampton we approached the anniversary through the lens of migration. The Mayflower is one of many thousands of migrant, transmigrant and refuge ships that have left from or arrived in Southampton during the past seven centuries. As a result, 148 languages are currently spoken in the city. The anniversary was an opportunity to reveal this rich and diverse history, and to encourage communities to tell their stories, many of which will have previously been hidden.
You can read about the wider international programme on: https://www.mayflower400uk.org
Mayflower 400 was due to run throughout 2020, but due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, experienced delays and extensions through into 2021. In Southampton, our programme launched in March 2020 with 1000 young people taking part in Southampton Music Hub’s, A Musical Odyssey, presented in partnership with Mayflower Theatre. There was then a pause during lockdown, but we picked up again in time for the August 2020 anniversary and ran through till June 2021.
On this website you will find an account of all the fantastic projects delivered across the city during this time. This includes large scale art, music and dance commissions, a community heritage programme, videos and digital materials, educational and learning materials, art exhibitions, and much more. There are still plenty of activities for you to do at home or in the school room, as well as videos for you to learn about Southampton’s rich history and that of our partner’s the Wampanoag people. You can also download a migration trail so you can walk the city’s streets and understand it like never-before.
The city came together to produce a fantastic array of exciting and creative work which engaged 150 artists, more than 2,000 participants in over 100 engagement sessions, and reached over 50,000 audience members.
Close working with representatives of the Wampanoag people for two years ensured that their voice was embedded within at points throughout the programme. In particular, working with Paula Peters and her team at SmokeSygnals, we created a wide range of digital content and produced the first ever Mayflower’s school pack co-written by Native American and UK scholars. We were the first UK city to take part in Native American Heritage month, when we released a number of new films sharing aspects of Wampanoag culture, their take on Thanksgiving, as well as resources charting Southampton’s many links with Native American traders throughout the centuries.
As part of the programme, a new plaque was installed on the Mayflower Memorial remembering the Wampanoag people who died in the Great Plague. Also, thanks to our partnership with The Box, Plymouth, we were able to host the newly-made Wampum Belt in the city for three months.
Events & Workshops
Our Arts Programme: exploring stories and celebrating communities living in Southampton
Purchase a piece of Mayflower history, explore previous commemorations in Southampton
Projects supported by a Mayflower Community Heritage Grant