A cash injection means Retford’s rich Pilgrim heritage story is a step closer to being told from a dedicated new base at the town’s museum.
Bassetlaw Council has received initial financial support of £45,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an ambitious project which will tell the story of the region’s early Pilgrims who left the area, initially fleeing to Holland, and then making the seminal journey aboard the Mayflower to Plymouth USA in 1620.
Interested groups have been working towards building a permanent central point for visitors to gather information on the history of the Pilgrims for more than ten years, and now with encouragement from the HLF, the reality of a Pilgrim Roots Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford is finally within reach.
A project, entitled Pilgrim Roots: The Separatists’ Story, will tell the inspiring tale about William Brewster, William Bradford and other influential pilgrims from Scrooby, Babworth, Austerfield and Sturton-le-Steeple.
And the story will be told in a modern way, dispelling the myths that ‘the Pilgrim Fathers’ were all old men, and introduce the role that women and young men played and critically will address the complex issues of the effect the Separatists settling in Plymouth had on the indigenous native population.
Development funding totalling £45,000 has been awarded by the HLF to help the authority with its plans to apply for a full grant in 2018.
If successful, the project will see a Pilgrim Roots Gallery being added at Bassetlaw Museum on Grove Street.
A three-year Heritage Engagement programme would take place across the Pilgrim Roots region, which covers heritage sites in north Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
An enhanced Mayflower Trail with digital resources bringing the trail to life will provide far-reaching opportunities for engaging communities and volunteers and attracting local, national and international visitors, says the council.
And new or enhanced interpretation will be developed at the churches and locations that would have been familiar to the Pilgrims.
A comprehensive one-year programme of events is also planned to mark the 400 anniversary of the voyage in 2020.
Deputy leader of the council and member for economic development, Cllr Jo White, said: “This is absolutely brilliant news. I am delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund recognises how important the Pilgrim Roots story is to the area.
“We led this application to HLF on behalf of a number of partners as diverse as West Lindsey District Council, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and University of Lincoln and this shows the passion and commitment of these organisations to create a lasting legacy from the 400 anniversary in 2020.
“It gives us a platform to build on annual events such as Illuminate and our Conference on Religious Tolerance and we are confident that our communities will benefit greatly if we are successful with the full grant application.”
Jonathan Platt, head of HLF East Midlands, said: “The story of the Mayflower is one of international significance, and has its roots in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
“We are delighted that money from National Lottery players can help support the plans for this important anniversary, and we look forward to seeing the detailed proposals in due course.”
Commenting on the HLF announcement, Bassetlaw MP John Mann, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Mayflower Pilgrims, said: “It’s great news that Heritage Lottery Fund are supporting stage one of the bid.