Daisies for eyes and leaves for hair by Rachel Chilton

This is my third week attending a workshop on the Charting the Mayflower project. My journey so far has been really interesting and enjoyable. Before coming, I knew very little about the history of the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed to America on the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago, but now know a little more…

I had once heard that there were people called Chilton (my surname) on the Mayflower and was excited to be reminded of this possible family connection in my first week. Peth gave me the passenger Mary Chilton, the 15-year-old daughter of Mrs and James Chilton to research. According to legend Mary Chilton was the first passenger to step ashore at Plymouth.

This week we worked outside, as part of creativity and well-being week. We went to King stairs gardens where we made a picture using whatever was around, such as grass leaves, twigs etc… We were asked to think of someone who had been on a journey and represent them with whatever was to hand. There were some lovely and poetic stories that came out of this exercise. One person had traced their own family back several hundred years and they had discovered they had lived in the local area by the river. I used daisies for eyes and leaves for hair and made a picture of a young woman (a symbolic mixture of my daughter and Mary Chilton from the Mayflower), journeying through adolescence from childhood to adulthood.

Peth told us that in the days of the Mayflower, that where the park is now, once stood busy boatyards where the sound of hammering and industry would have been very noisy, compared to the relative quiet of today. I felt momentarily transported back to that time, imaging the scene and the noise of clanging and the sawing of wood as the boats were being built.

After this we went on to Saint Mary the Virgin church where we wrote an imaginary letter from someone about to set sail on the Mayflower. This was really thought provoking, in getting you to stand in someone else’s shoes, and imagine what they might be feeling and thinking before setting sail on the long voyage to America. We finished the evening by visiting a statue by the Riverside at Cumberland wharf, Rotherhithe, the approximate place from where the Mayflower set sail from. The statue which was commissioned in the early 1990s was of William Bradford, the famous governor of the new Plymouth colony in America, with a young boy looking at a 1930s comic book depicting many of the modern things associated with America. This juxtaposition between the ages generated some interesting conversations about what William Bradford would have thought about what the “new world” has become in modern America today. We also met a man there who was very interested in the project and may be joining our group…

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