Letters, commemorations and memories
15 August 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, and her sister ship the Speedwell, leaving Southampton for the ‘New World’. To mark the occasion, extensive restoration work has been carried out on the Mayflower Memorial. The stone busts and pillars have been replaced, the mosaic cupola repaired, the bronze model of the Mayflower conserved, new LED lighting installed, various repairs and cleaning of plaques. Southampton Heritage Federation marked the anniversary with readings on the 15 August there; this was attended by the Mayor of Southampton. To ensure it was Covid secure, this activity was not open to the general public.
Plus, we have made a series of short films exploring the history of the Mayflower Memorial and the recent restoration project; what Southampton would have looked like in 1620 and how it features in the Mayflower story; and what was done in the City to mark the 1970 anniversary.
Wampum: Stories from the shells of Native America also opened at SeaCity Museum
This year, a much smaller event was also held at the newly renovated Mayflower Memorial, led by Southampton Heritage Federation and attended by the Mayor of Southampton. The event centred on a letter written to the Puritan Separatists from John Robinson, their Pastor who had remained behind in Leiden; this was read on board the ship before she sailed away from Southampton.
The letter discusses how to live onboard, and in their planned new settlement, in a way that is understanding and accepting of difference. Many of those sailing on the Mayflower and Speedwell were economic migrants, they did not share the same religious convictions as the Puritans, and John Robinson warns his congregation, the so-called Pilgrims, of the danger of taking or giving offence, instead encouraging wisdom and charity. He also discusses the nature of good governance, telling the Puritans that they should work for the common good, elect a good leader who can do that, and that they should pick a man for his honourable actions and not because he looks flashy or talks a good talk.
If we were writing a letter to the Mayflower passengers today, what would you want to say about their voyage? About living well as a community? About understanding and living with people who might be different from us? About the nature of good leadership? Or about being good neighbours? Why not write your own ‘letter to the Mayflower’ and send it to us as a short film and/or a written piece at: firstname.lastname@example.org We will post a range of the most interesting letters on our social media channels.