Why 2020 is a Landmark Year for Dartmouth

Glorious Dartmouth, the home of our seated titles, is the setting for a spectacular celebration that began in November last year and will continue for 12 months. The celebration is inspired by the fact that 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the iconic Mayflower and her companion ship, the Speedwell, visiting the harbour town when the latter required repairs. On board were dozens of visionary passengers, including persecuted English Separatists, bound for the New World, where they intended to build new lives for themselves.

Dartmouth’s Role in the Pilgrims’ Historic Voyage

Although the leaky Speedwell ultimately didn’t prove seaworthy enough to cross the Atlantic, the Mayflower carried the settlers safely to their destination – and so began a new chapter in American history. Those brave souls are today remembered as the Pilgrims or Pilgrim Fathers, who founded Plymouth Colony in New England.

The Pilgrims spent several days moored at Dartmouth in late August 1620 and reached American shores in early November. Then as now, the town was an important port; its deep waters were a godsend for ships like the 180-ton Mayflower, and there were plenty of experienced shipwrights ready to come to the aid of vessels and their crews. Thanks to Dartmouth and its residents, the Pilgrims were able to press on with their historic voyage.

As a result, this beautiful area of South Devon played a key role in a tremendously significant period of Anglo-American history. As the London Unattached travel magazine says of Dartmouth, ‘the Mayflower heritage is real here – and definitely worth exploring’.

Highlighting the Town’s Mayflower Heritage

The Dartmouth Mayflower 400 project aims to make the most of the town’s link to the Pilgrims for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. This year’s milestone anniversary, as the Dartmouth Mayflower 400 team emphasises, ‘is a once in a lifetime opportunity to commemorate one of the most important events in history’.

The commemoration began with the atmospheric Night of 400 Candles at Dartmouth’s St Saviour’s Church on 30 November 2019. With plenty of other Dartmouth Mayflower 400-led events and activities to enjoy (we’ll discuss our favourites below), 2020 is a landmark year for the town. The fact that the celebrations are part of the international Mayflower 400 programme can only enhance their impact – and Dartmouth’s status.

Discover 17th Century Dartmouth

Dartmouth’s Mayflower Heritage Trail gives you a taste of life during the time of the Pilgrims. Follow the trail around the town and its surroundings to visit Bayard’s Cove (where the Pilgrims dropped anchor), the ornate Tudor Butterwalk, the awe-inspiring Dartmouth Castle and other historic sights.

A modern addition to the town, the Pilgrim sculpture created by artist Mark Gregory and Dartmouth Academy, stands on the South Embankment.

The trail is a wonderful way to experience Dartmouth and drink in the incredible views (the scenery is so stunning it even has its own calendar!).

Celebrate the Mayflower with Music

Dartmouth’s Britannia Choral Society is preparing to perform Horizons: A Celebration of the Mayflower 400 at St Clement’s Church on 28 March.

The concert is an opportunity to hear the Mayflower 400 anthem by Ed Welch and Brian Patten. ‘Setting out on a journey of hope, they had heard a new world call’ – the rousing lyrics focus on the Pilgrims’ extraordinary leap of faith.

On 13 June, St Saviour’s Church will host Over the Restless Sea. Listen out for Clive Jenkins’ Mayflower Pilgrims cantata, featuring words written by a Pilgrim.

Experience the Pilgrims’ Journey on Stage

Amateur actors will bring the Mayflower’s voyage to life when they present Safe Haven locally from 2-4 July. Written by Derek Parsons and Keith Myerson, the play emphasises that people can overcome challenges and achieve their dreams when they pull together.

Admire the Grand Dart River Pageant

The most exciting celebrations will be held during Mayflower Week itself (30 August-5 September), most notably the Grand Dart River Pageant. An impressive fleet of boats will take part, but the stars of the show will be Matthew of Bristol and Pilgrim of Brixham, representing the Mayflower and Speedwell respectively.

Become a Titled Dartmouth Landowner in 2020

According to the History channel, 35 million people are descended from the Mayflower’s passengers. If you’re one of them or if you’re fascinated by Anglo-American history, why not celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ voyage with a seated title in Dartmouth?

Our seated title service includes a legal, presumed title of your choice (becoming a Lord or Lady, for example, is a brilliant way to boost your social status) and a small land parcel.

Mark a momentous occasion and upgrade your lifestyle today with Elite Titles!

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