top of page

The Mayflower visits London

There were many ships called Mayflower in 1620 and it is not know for certain which one was the actual ship that took the pilgrims to America. However extensive research by academics and enthusiastic has resulted in a common belief that it was ship which had previously been used in transporting goods, mainly between London and Bordeaux in France.

A journal recorded by one of the pilgrims puts the size as a capacity of between 180 and 200 tons. From these specifications, and based on ship design of the period, specialists have been able to estimate the dimensions. According to the Mayflower expert, Caleb Johnson, ‘The length of the deck from stem to stern was about 80 feet, of which about 12 feet at the back belonged to the gun room and was off-limits to the passengers. The width at the widest part was about 24 feet.

A highly detailed model was painstakingly built five years ago by college apprentices local to Harwich, originally for a reception at the American Embassy in London. It took eight weeks to build after careful study of paintings of the ship and research into historic archives to find out its size so that the model could be accurately scaled.

The 18-foot replica made an unusual voyage on Wednesday 15 May. It set off very early in the morning, before sunrise, and arrived at London Liverpool Street train station for a day long display. Returning home later that day. Tony Elliston, chairman of the Harwich Mayflower Heritage Centre, hoped their model would help show the historic links Harwich has, not just to the Mayflower, but also its naval yard, fort and medieval history. He said: "I think many people don't know the historic links Harwich has, not just the Mayflower, and to take the model to Liverpool Street will promote Harwich."

No-one knows for certain what became of the famous Mayflower ship. Mater Jones died in Rotherhithe less than a year after the voyage and the ship was declared ‘in ruinis’ in 1624, during a valuation for purposed of probate. Some believe that parts of the ship were used to build a barn in Jordans, Buckinghamshire. However, that claim was made during the 300 year anniversary in 1920, and is now largely discredited. The Mayflower may have been sold off as scrap or it may have merely have rotted away. We may never know what happened to the Mayflower, but we can see the beautiful scale model.


bottom of page