When the weather takes a turn for the worse, which is more often than you’d ideally want in Plymouth, you need to find other things to do than roam Dartmoor or the coastal paths. For most, that would probably mean spending the weekend in front of the TV, but not us! Emily and I decided to check out some of our only shared history by visiting the Mayflower Museum to see how American national and Plymouth local histories are linked by this famous vessel and voyage.
The view from the top floor balcony
For £3 you get a fair bit over 3 floors. The top floor gives a great vista over the Barbican, pointing out the different historical places in the harbour and surrounding area. After taking in the views you head down a level to learn about the pilgrims, religious persecution in the England and why emigration across the Atlantic – a drastic decision in the 1600s – was the choice they felt they had to make. Learning about Plymouth in 1620 and how it was a port already linked to the New World – including a visit from Pocahontas in 1616 – I found there was plenty of new stuff to take in, despite being a history graduate who has always lived here. Plus there was the opportunity to dress up as a pilgrim, always a laugh!
Climbing down the stairs and nearing the end of the museum, we saw the changing face of the Barbican and ships in the harbour, the names of all the pilgrims and their families and finally a scale model of the Mayflower. Built by Devonport Dockyard apprentices in 1969 to commemorate 1970 being 350 years since the Mayflower’s voyage, it was a great way to finish off our tour. With 2020 and 400 years since the voyage just around the corner, a visit now is equally poignant. And for us, it served as some inspiration for an East Coast trip to the States in the future!
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Something for me to live by!