South Devon played a significant part in the Mayflower’s pioneering voyage whose passengers were heading for the land known as the New World in search of a new life and religious freedom. On 16th September 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, laden with provisions for the 30 crew and servants, and 102 men, women and children onboard.
After an epic voyage spending 66 perilous days at sea, the Mayflower arrived at Provincetown and landed at Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts on 26th December 1620. The passengers, later named the Pilgrim Fathers, became the first permanent settlers of New England, impacting upon the land and the relationship that developed with the Native American Wampanoag people to create the United States of America that exists today.
To commemorate this historic journey that the Mayflower ship made from England to America in 1620, whom so many Americans can trace their ancestry back to, there is a year-long programme of events taking place in South Devon.
From theatre performances and dazzling Illuminate light shows, national touring exhibitions to cultural and heritage festivals, specially commissioned projects with communities across the Atlantic and self-guided trails to mark the 400-year anniversary, there will be an event for you.
The English Riviera on the South West coast is perfectly placed to experience some of the Mayflower 400 events taking place in the local towns of Dartmouth on the River Dart and Plymouth, known as Britain’s Ocean City.
Getting to Dartmouth from the English Riviera is straightforward with various forms of transport, but the most exciting is catching the Dartmouth Steam Train from Paignton to Kingswear then a short passenger ferry service to transport you across the River Dart. The train runs along near the sea, with breath-taking views of the English Riviera coastline.
Some of the highlights of the Dartmouth Mayflower 400 events include:
A Grand Dart River Pageant on 30th August 2020 - a river based commemorative spectacle with a 10ft Mayflower replica, alongside a variety of sailing vessels. The pageant will take place at the end of the popular, annual Dartmouth Royal Regatta and will launch Dartmouth’s Mayflower Week events.
The Mayflower Trail is part of a national trail which will lead visitors through the historic streets and follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims. The Dartmouth Mayflower Trail will consist of 3 parts including a Town Trail, Packhorse Trail and a Castle Trail. The Town Trail will include a stop at Bayard’s Cove, a Tudor fort where the Mayflower and The Speedwell (another ship which didn’t make it) were moored.
Plymouth is only 33 miles from Torquay with excellent train connections, making a great value and convenient city day trip. There’s a train station at each end of our road, only a ten minute walk away from The 25.
Explore Plymouth and head to the Barbican to see the Mayflower Steps, the place where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail and see the Mayflower Museum to learn more about this amazing story. Plymouth is also good for shopping, and there’s Plymouth Gin Distillery and the National Marine Aquarium too so plenty to keep you busy.
Event highlights include:
The Mayflower Ceremony on 16th September 2020, a civic ceremony with representatives from the UK, US, Netherlands and Wampanoag with mass participation from local schools, organisations and residents.
Mayflower Muster on 19th and 20th September 2020, when the city commemorates its naval heritage and partnership with the US and Dutch Armed Forces. A festival of live displays and interactive demonstrations.
The English Riviera has maintained a close relationship with its American allies, having played an important role in World War 2 activity and the Normandy D-Day landings, one of the largest sea invasions in history. US military forces carried out training exercises including Exercise Tiger on the slipways at Brixham Harbour and D-Day slipways were built at Torquay Harbour as embarkation ramps for Operation Overload.
Brixham also has a close link to Mayflower II, which was built at Uphams Shipyard in 1956 and presented as a thank you gift to the United States of America for their support during the second world war. A replica model of Mayflower II can be seen at Brixham Heritage Museum.
For further information about Mayflower400 events taking place during your stay with us on the English Riviera visit: https://www.englishriviera.co.uk/whats-on/mayflower-400-events-p2780293
As Torquay is an ideal place to stay to enjoy many of the Mayflower400 events and to be able to use as a base for visiting local towns, why not stay at the “Best B&B in the World”?
The 25 was awarded this accolade in January 2019 by travel website TripAdvisor.