Charting the Mayflower, the first six months

London Bubble’s inter-generational project Charting the Mayflower is bringing together historians, artists, volunteers and participants of all ages to explore the Mayflower voyage and its contemporary resonances.

We began in January with meetings to sketch out the history. Since then, volunteers have gathered factual information about the life and times of the passengers, which we have used to spark activities, games and discussions at workshops during April, May and June.

In this first stage, we have been thinking about ‘leavings’; why did the passengers leave on the Mayflower? Why do people leave their country, and continue to do so today?

To get us thinking about all the different reasons that people might have boarded the Mayflower, each group member was assigned a passenger to research. We started to relate to these passengers; by finding out about their profession, their age, and their status on the boat (there were many servants and children) we were starting to get a picture of what it was like to live in England in the Seventeenth Century. We tried on clothes that our passengers might have worn, and handled the objects they might have taken with them. Trips to Southwark Cathedral and The Clink gave a taste of the stark differences between now and then, and what was at stake if you didn’t agree with the status quo.

It’s also been a chance for us to look at our own stories of leaving and journeys, and those of the world today. We went on a trip to the Migration Museum to think about other important migration moments in Britain’s history, and mapped our personal ancestral stories of movement across the globe.

We’re now thinking about how we can share what we have found out with others. In the autumn the group will be leading workshops with other people who live in North Southwark, at schools and community settings. They’ll be offering a workshop which tells the story of the passengers we have researched, and which draws out the bigger questions about how all of this has shaped global history.

Our next theme, which we will start to research in the autumn, will be the journey itself; how was the voyage financed, and what was it like at sea? There’ll be trips and activities exploring navigation, ships, as well as paying for and surviving a long sea journey.

In the midst of this is The Measuring, a public event on September 23rd, from 3pm in Kings Stairs Gardens. This interactive event will explore how 133 people, plus provisions and livestock, fitted into the available space on board, and will also consider more recent migrations. Come and watch or take part in this family-friendly event – the youngest passenger on the Mayflower was born on board!

Regular workshops begin again on Thursday evenings at Bubble from 30th August, get in touch with to find out more about the project and let us know you are coming.

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