A project to commemorate the Pilgrim’s heritage has received a £450,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Thanks to National Lottery players, this investment will fund the appointment of two new roles to support heritage tourism and create learning opportunities around the Pilgrims’ story in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
The roles will be funded for three years and include a Heritage Engagement Officer and a Heritage Support Officer.
The Heritage Engagement Officer will visit schools and groups across the Pilgrim Roots area.
The officer will be equipped with dressing up costumes, learning boxes and lesson programmes, to increase knowledge and pride in the ownership of the Separatist part of the Mayflower story.
The Heritage Support Officer will work with tour operators and independent visitors to advise about local Pilgrim heritage sites, organise tour guides, arrange transport, hotel and restaurant facilities bookings.
The project will help promote and share Gainsborough’s role in the story of the Pilgrims, some of whom sailed on the Mayflower to America in 1620, and will create a lasting legacy for the area building up to the 400th anniversary of the voyage in 2020 and beyond.
West Lindsey District Council is a Founding Partner in the Mayflower 400 Compact Partnership and Coun Sheila Bibb welcomed the news of the grant and the recognition it gives to Gainsborough’s role.
She said: “We have been determined within the council to recognise, share and inspire local people with the stories of the Separatists and Pilgrims – and our partnership in this significant heritage project will allow us to do that.
“We want to encourage people to visit our historic town and be able to find out more about how our history connects us to a shared history that stretches from here across England, to Holland and across to America.”
The ambitious plans will also include a new Pilgrims Trail to enhance the existing trail, which marks out key Pilgrims’ heritage sites – including sites in Gainsborough at the Old Hall and the United Reformed Church.
New interpretation boards will also be put up at eight key sites, each with their own stories to tell.
There will be a new website with information on history, ancestry, news and events, together with a state of the art, interesting, educational and fun Pilgrims Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford.
Bassetlaw District Council is the lead partner in the project, and this funding will allow them to deliver a project which has been in development over the past year.
The grant brings £776,000 worth of investment into the Pilgrim Roots partnership area, which includes Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.
Coun Gillian Bardsley said she is “thrilled to see the project coming together.”
She continued: “This project was initially started over 10 years ago, and to get to this point is down to the sheer hard work and determination of a lot of people – I am really proud to be able to see this project coming together.
“A tremendous ‘thank you’ is also well deserved for players of The National Lottery, without whom we wouldn’t have received this grant.”
A year-long calendar of events has been planned to coincide with the Mayflower 400 commemorative year, starting with ‘Illuminate’ in November 2019 and ending with a headline ‘Illuminate’ event in 2020.
The official launch of the Pilgrims Trail will take place in Summer 2019.
Other activities include: The Pilgrim Roots Lecture Series, The PilgrimAGE summer season of events in 2020, festivals, touring exhibitions, photography, short story competitions, music and drama.
Dr Anna Scott, West Lindsey District Council’s Mayflower 400 Officer, said: “Although this is a story that is four hundred years old, the resonance it continues to have today is profound.
“Our project will be focusing on core themes of freedom, tolerance and migration – which are things we can relate to and continue to debate, experience and fight for today.
“This story is incredibly meaningful for people who were descended from the original Mayflower passengers, but the story of what happened before the ship sailed from Plymouth has been much less well-known.
“Our project helps us address that as we focus on where these people originally came from, how they came together and why they made the choices they did.
“One of the strengths of this project is the collaborative partnership which is making the project happen across county boundaries and includes a wide range of connected heritage sites.”
The Pilgrim Roots Heritage Project is a partnership led by Bassetlaw District Council with support from West Lindsey District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and the University of Lincoln.
The project will run from September 2018 until September 2021.