There is a great irony in the fact that the English town most associated with the pilgrims’ flight to freedom had virtually no ties to the travellers themselves. The only reason Plymouth has gone down in American history as a significant location is because of bad weather and a leaky ship (Southampton was the Mayflower’s intended origin). Nevertheless, when visiting the seaside harbour, the American presence is inescapable. There are numerous memorials, plaques, museums and other references to the Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth in 1602. Not least of these are the Mayflower steps. Although the original steps from which the Pilgrims embarked the Mayflower are long gone, a memorial bearing that name stands not far from the supposed location. The memorial consists of a granite block, commemorating the voyage, with a sandstone doric portico. If you step through the portico, you will find yourself on a small platform, overlooking the modern harbour. On the protective railing of this platform, there is a bronze plaque, giving certain nautical details about the area. The portico is flanked by a British and American flag. The memorial in its current form was more than 100 years in the making. First, in 1891, a granite block with the inscription, ‘Mayflower 1620’ was laid. In 1934, with the financial support of a Sir Frederick Winnicot, the block was moved and a portico added. The viewing platform, which is accessible via the portico, was built in 2000. It has since become a landmark in Plymouth, attracting visitors from all over. To any person in England interested in American history, Plymouth is a must see. You can easily fill the day by visiting the Mayflower museum, the Gin distilleries (where the Pilgrims supposedly stayed), viewing the plaque listing all the passengers on the Mayflower or walking around this scenic town. Just by visiting the local shops, you can see how closely linked Plymouth is to the United States. This seaside harbour has truly embraced its accidental American heritage.
The Admiral Macbride tavern, the original point from which the Mayflower cast off when the shoreline was 20 feet further back.
The gin distillery where the Pilgrims were housed while waiting for the Mayflower to be repaired.