Mayflower 400 in Harleston - Press Release

2020 will see the 400th anniversary of the long sea voyage made on the ship Mayflower by the group known as The Pilgrim Fathers, and their landfall in America. Put very simply, they were seeking a new life, free from the constraints imposed by the established Church on their right to worship as they wished. The 400th Anniversary is going to be marked nationally by activity and events all around the country at sites significant to the departure of the pilgrims. The year long project will run from Thanksgiving Day November 2019 until Thanksgiving Day 2020.


Although not on the national Mayflower 400 itinerary, Harleston and district has its own very special reason to celebrate - since a family of four from Harleston (Dad Fuller, mum, son and dad’s brother) were among the passengers on that historic 1620 Mayflower voyage.


So a Mayflower 400 in Harleston programme is being put together under the coordinating umbrella of Harleston’s Future, and a growing programme will snowball during the anniversary year. Therefore look out for the Mayflower 400 in Harleston logo (used here) which will signal all the town’s anniversary events. It was designed by ScribblyRoo, the young Alburgh artist who designed and painted the beautiful Harleston Hare which proudly sat stargazing outside St John’s Church last summer.


A particularly significant event in the Mayflower 400 in Harleston programme will be the visit here in mid July by members of The Fuller Society of America, descendants of the four brave settlers from Harleston who set sail into the unknown all those years ago. These American “reverse pilgrims” plan, of course, to go to St Mary’s, Redenhall, where the brothers Edward and Samuel Fuller were baptised, and where, in the Chancel, there is a plaque commemorating their forbears and an earlier welcome visit by the Fuller Society of America in 2011.


Mayflower 400 in Harleston will be launched by Harleston Academy schoolchildren on 28 November 2019 with the unveiling of a new art installation in St John’s Church. 400 paper origami ships, coloured by the youngsters and each carrying a thought, comment or message from the child, will sail across St John’s roofspace; and groups of children from the school will be given an introduction to Thanksgiving food (think pumpkins; turkeys; corn biscuits). After a week or three, the installation will go into store - to be reassembled for the Fuller Society’s visit to Redenhall. Rumour has it that another small fleet of model ships is in the making for a Mayflower boat race on the Waveney later in the summer.


In advance of that launch Waveney Heritage have announced a talk, “Harleston Pilgrim Fathers – Mayflower 400” by Margaret Griffiths on 29 October at 14.30 at The Old School Brockdish (call 01379 668279 for tickets). Other events, either under way or in different stages of discussion, include a lecture programme; a commemorative drama; an archive film or drama documentary; Mayflower 400 theming for the Harleston and Waveney Festival and for the Harleston Academy summer Gala; a Mayflower bake-off; a special stamp cover, and more. The list goes on - and fuller (excuse the pun) details will be published as they are finalised, so please watch this space and also the website www.visitharleston.org.uk

Anyone who would like to know more, become involved, or has suggestions to enrich the programme further is encouraged to look up info@harlestonsfuture.org.uk, or to contact Trevor Graham, Mayflower 400 in Harleston coordinator who can direct you to the right corner.


Through all the year’s events, and a mini serialisation for publication month by month, the Mayflower story, the key characters, and the significant part they came to play in the development of the American Constitution will be told. Harleston has every reason to be proud of and to celebrate the part that the Fuller family from Harleston played in the Mayflower endeavour. So come November 2019 – let the commemoration begin! Enjoy, and be a part of it.

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