OK, let’s get this straight right from the start…
The Mayflower DID NOT sail from Harwich to America.
Now a little about me before I give you the concrete information that disputes this.
I lived in Harwich for three years and was a volunteer at the Harwich Mayflower Project for 18 months. During that time and before it, I read as many books on the Mayflower as I could get my hands on. During my time at the Project, one of the many things I did was to give guided tours, and I was regularly praised on my knowledge and “bringing the voyage to life”. In the time since I moved out of Harwich and back to London I have retained my interest and have visited Holland, Rotherhithe, Plymouth and Southampton over the last 8 months, gathering information and research for a novel to be published in late November 2019. At the end of this year I will be spending two months in the USA, which will culminate with my visiting Boston, Plimoth Plantation, and surrounding areas. Again for research.
The following appeared in the local Harwich newspaper on 12th May:
“In the 17th century the Pilgrim ship the Mayflower set sail from Harwich to America.”
I have no idea where the newspaper got this information, but at best they have been misinformed and at worst they have been lied to.
I also received an email a while ago stating that I should be “proud of a town such as Harwich that sent the Pilgrims to America”. First off, Harwich is a wonderful town, but it definitely played no part in sending the pilgrims to America, apart from the Mayflower Captain Christopher Jones being born there. The Ship itself cannot be traced to a shipyard where it was built. Records from 1609 show Jones as being the Captain of the Mayflower. In port books of 1609 to 11 the Mayflower is said to be “Of Harwich”. While this means the Mayflower was definitely in Harwich, there is no proof to show she was built there, but then again, there is no proof to show she wasn’t.
In 1611 Jones (and the Mayflower) left Harwich and moved to Rotherhithe. This was to be his home until his death in 1622. Various records in the years after Jones arrived in Rotherhithe show his ship on the Thames. Rotherhithe was her home port and it was where she returned to in 1621 when returning from America.
In William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation, he states “A small ship was bought and fitted in Holland..” (The Speedwell) and “Another was hired in London and things were made ready” (The Mayflower). The Mayflower was hired at Rotherhithe and went on to meet the Speedwell in Southampton where they left for the new world before having to return due to issues with Speedwell. They then carried on their journey in the Mayflower as the speedwell was deemed unseaworthy.
The Pilgrims journey to America started from Rotherhithe, making their way to Southampton, but their final port of call in the UK was Plymouth.
If I drove my car from Harwich to London and lived in London driving to work every day and sometimes going further afield, then 9 years later I drove a family from London to the coast in that same car, would you say my journey to the coast started from Harwich?
I have received the following from Mr. Paul Simmons:
I was the official Internet researcher for the Mayflower Project and found out lots of information that has never come to light before.
One of those snippets was that Christopher Jones, before the recognised sailing from Redruthe to Southampton, brought his wife, who was pregnant, and his children to Harwich, to stay with their relatives. At the same time the extra crew he required for the journey were hired and were mainly Harwich Peninsula men. Thus it can be argued that the Mayflower set sail to the New World from Harwich, via Southampton, Dartmouth and Plymouth.
The salient remark here is “argued”. While we definitely know from parish records that Jones’ youngest was baptised in Harwich and that his wife was there during his voyage, even if it could be proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the ship was in Harwich a day before being chartered in London, (which it cannot as far as I’m aware) it would not have had any passengers on it. The pilgrims boarded the two vessels in Holland and London. That is (unarguably) where their voyage started. Where does one draw the line? Before it was in London the Mayflower was trading in Europe, do we therefore say the journey to the US started in France? I’m afraid I cannot, nor I believe would anyone else, (apart from maybe from someone with a vested interest) say that the Pilgrims voyage started in Harwich.
The Harwich Mayflower Project has announced an Open Session to allow “people with concerns about the Project to question a Trustee” (taken from Harwich and Manningtree Standard Fri 12th May). If you are local and have any concerns, please attend.
The time and date of the session is Thursday May 18th at 9.30am. A time when most people who have any concerns may be at work. But, the Project has of course set up a special email address where anyone with a concern can send in their questions… Oh wait, they haven’t.
So, please be prepared for the Project’s announcement of “We asked for people with concerns to turn up and only 2 arrived”. Why was this not set for a time in the evening when the people of Harwich could actually be there. Surely one of the Trustees, who are mostly retired individuals, can spare a few hours in the evening to meet members of the public? The same public that they are taking donations from. As I’ve said before, it’s not rocket science is it?
I for one can’t be there, but if anyone who is reading this can be there, could you please ask a question for me? “Dear Trustee, as there has been no ship build since 2014 and you have been, and are still taking donations from the public for a “Build” which is non-existent at the moment, can you please state (with records to back it up) what these donations from the public have been used for?”
Now that this question is in the public domain, the Project will no doubt have their usual “politician style” prepared answer ready.
There are of course lots of unanswered questions concerning this “Charity”, but they’re best left for members of the public to ask on Thursday.
Well I guess the Project is struggling for cash a little more than I suspected. Why else would they be selling their large industrial saw that’s used to chop through tree trunks? Surely it’ll be needed for when the funds come rolling in and they start building the ship? Or then again, maybe after the local council told them they are no longer a major part of the 2020 celebrations, they’ve decided to downsize? Who knows.
Anyways, in an effort to help them out, I’m going to give them a little free publicity in the hope they can sell it. It’s available on ebay if you’re interested and here’s the screen shot.
While the HMP still has no funding after setting up in 2010 and trying since then to gain funding, the piece further down the page has come from the local paper, The Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Dated 13th March ’17.
On a funding note, while the HMP ( a small group of amateurs trying to build a ship) has stated the build will cost £4 Million, here is what the professional boat builders at Mystic Seaport that are refurbishing Mayflower II have to say:
Experts determined the 106-foot (MayflowerII) ship is in surprisingly decent shape for a wooden vessel exposed to six decades’ worth of the elements. That’s good news, because junking the ship and building a new Mayflower from scratch — an option once under consideration — would have cost $15 million. (approx. 12 million pounds)
*****From The Harwich and Manningtree Standard. March 13th 2017*******
A PROJECT to build a replica of the ship that sailed the Pilgrim Fathers to America is no longer being viewed as a major part of Harwich’s plan for the Mayflower 2020 celebrations.
The Mayflower Project, based in George Street, aims to build a full-sized ocean-going replica of the Mayflower in time for the 400th anniversary of the voyage.
But following fears over whether the ship will be ready in time for the celebrations, town councillors said the project will now simply be viewed as a bonus to the Harwich and Dovercourt Tourism Group’s plans for the anniversary.
Speaking at a meeting of the town council on Tuesday, resident Dr Terry Rogers said: “We were told the build would commence in September 2016.
“At the Mayflower’s annual meeting it was made clear that currently they had no significant funds available and no build could start until funding was in place.
“It was further stated that £3million was being negotiated from a major media company.
“No date was given for the completion of the negotiation.”
Mr Rogers said that at the AGM, the chairman stood down and that the vice-chairman has since resigned.
He added: “Has the time come for Harwich Town Council to encourage a reshaping of the tourism plan with the Mayflower Project essentially disregarded, but seen as a bonus to the plan if an ocean ready boat does get built?”
Town councillor Ivan Henderson said it would “inappropriate” for the council to interfere with Mayflower Project’s business, but said the tourism group is “very clear” that Harwich has a lot to gain from the 2020 celebrations.
He added: “The tourism group sees the Mayflower Project as a bonus to the Mayflower 2020 celebration and that’s how we have been planning things with Tendring Council.
“Harwich has got enough history to develop a really good plan for a celebration to go ahead when the time comes.
“There’s plenty going on and plenty to celebrate without one particular project.
“But it has always been our hope that the project can go ahead.”
Ian Davidson, the district council’s chief executive, stressed that the Mayflower Project was “always only one part” of the Mayflower 2020 celebrations and that the whole aim of the project is to encourage tourism for years to come.
But Fred Nicholls, the new chairman of the Mayflower Project, said he is still hopeful that the boat can be built.
“We accept it’s very difficult to build the vessel, but we have not given up,” he said.
“We are in negotiations with some high profile companies and if we get the funds the ship will be built on time – it’s purely a question of funding.
“There have been funding problems with the Mayflower Project, however, we are doing everything in our power to rectify it.”
Oh dear, another message from the Project. I think I must be rattling their cage. Or to quote the immortal bard, “Methinks they doth protest too much”. I’m getting more than a little tired of this nonsense. Their message is in italics and my reply is in standard font.
Dear Mr Kelly,
FACTS. You wrongly address your blog to Mr Day. The authors of our last response were the Trustees of the Harwich Mayflower Project. We are disturbed that you are addressing these points to him – please desist in using the wrong addressees and causing unnecessary distress.
Facts? You guys wouldn’t know a fact if you fell over it. Here’s the “Facts”. Your latest message was sent from Sean.firstname.lastname@example.org who is not a trustee. if you want to send messages as trustees, get a trustee address and stop using a staff address. it’s not rocket science is it?
Also, you say I wrongly addressed my blog to Mr. Day. Please see the screenshot below.
As usual, you guys have skewed the truth to suit yourselves. The original message was from “Sean for the Trustees” The address was email@example.com. As such that was who the reply was addressed to and where the reply went, to be passed on to the trustees. “Distress”? Yep, I’m sure poor Mr Day had to sit down with a strong cup of tea and had to take a few days off work after receiving an email. Poor soul. Again, if the trustees want to send messages as the trustees, get an address. firstname.lastname@example.org would do the job. Once again, I shouldn’t have to tell you this.
The 2016 Newsletter was posted on our website – please look again.
I would if I could get access to your website. It has been unavailable for a while now (apparently according to google “this site may be hacked”) and as of this message, I still cannot gain access to your site as it is unavailable. How hard is it to use social media to give people information? Especially when your site has been down for so long.
Thank you for your summary of the project’s past but nothing you have said is new to us but of course you always skew the story. All of the potential benefits of sponsorship and donations require machinery which is built only with financial resources. We repeat, that sponsorship remains our primary target and if you can help then we would be grateful. Otherwise your negativity is not wanted.
Of course it’s not new, you’re continually rehashing the same old thing, and as for skewing the story, please do not judge me by your own low standards. I have presented nothing here but facts. Directors have stepped down followed by the vice director. You decided not to renew US charity status, the training centre has closed, the build (what there is of it) stalled in 2014 and has not recommenced. There is no build happening for people to come and see. etc. etc. What part of that truth is skewed? My being honest and reporting information you refuse to, is not negative. Your hiding the facts and lying to the public is negative.
Your assertion that the Heritage Centre’s costs would be better deployed on the ship build is noted but again wrong. We had no choice as the Heritage Centre costs were ring-fenced by local authorities and a family trust. Please re-read our website so that you are better informed.
You chose to build a heritage centre. You were not told to do so by local authorities. It was your choice to solicit funds for that project. It was your choice to get funds for a visitor centre and not for the ship. As you see, I am very well informed and again, I’d love to visit your website, but it remains unavailable.
In view of your irritation and constant criticism of the Harwich Mayflower Project, your failure to recognise the efforts of those making an honourable and proper contribution to Harwich and the local area as well as your insulting our staff we have come to the decision to cease all communication with your Ship’s Blog. This sort of behaviour has sadly become rife by bloggers world-wide from behind the closed curtains of the internet – we will not be part of it.
Harwich Mayflower Project
I have (until your recent vitriolic messages) never criticised the project. I just pass on information you refuse to. Seeing as I was a volunteer for 18 months, I more than recognise the efforts of those at the project, especially the poor misguided volunteers. But I’m also very much aware from my time there that you guys couldn’t run a bath, never mind a multi million project. Yep, NOW I’m being negative. I have never insulted the staff and as usual, you say all this but provide no proof, because there is none. You have never been part of this blog nor have you ever been asked to. The very fact I can be independent and report the things you’d rather have swept under the carpet is because you are NOT a part of it. And thank God for that! As for bloggers and rife behaviour, it is due to freedom of speech that these “bloggers” you mentioned have been able to highlight corruption and illicit practices that would not otherwise have been made public. Personally, I think that a good thing. Maybe you don’t?
As I have always said. I am cautiously optimistic for the build, and live in hope that a large corporation will come along, kick you all out and do the job that you are so obviously unable to do. Please desist in contacting me with your propaganda and drivel, I’m finding it continually difficult to stomach it. You guys carry on believing your own publicity and spouting nonsense and I’ll carry on following what’s actually happening and passing it on. I wish you all well, especially the poor “distressed” Mr Day.
I was going to put a few comments here, because although they are placed on the side bar over there, a lot of people still miss them. I’d advise you to have a look to gauge the general feeling of people, both here and in the US. But, I received a comment a few hours back that I think is straightforward, pithy, and so very well written with lovely snatches of humour that it deserves a platform all of its own.
Crimsonseas, I salute you.
I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical disney land. where as the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.
But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.
If anyone from HMP is reading this, perhaps it’s time you stop sniffing wood glue, you’re clearly more high than your neighbours in bathside.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: This blog does not condone the sniffing of wood glue, or any other substances used to fix wood together. We might like a drink now and again on a Friday night, and maybe a bag of pork scratchings, but that’s where we draw the line… OK there was that one time when someone said I could get a buzz from licking a frog, but I’m not counting that.
Isn’t it always the way. You hear from nobody for ages and then (like buses) they all come together. After hearing from a journalist a few days ago who is doing a piece on the Mayflower Project, I received a message from a Mr Sean Day on behalf of the Trustees of the Project. The message in it’s entirety is below, followed by my reply.
RESPONSE TO THE SHIP’S BLOG OF FEB 17
Dear Mr Kelly,
Thank you for your continuing interest in the Harwich Mayflower Project and we are pleased that you remain cautiously optimistic for our build. As you know we are but a small band of enthusiasts who simply want to build a Mayflower replica and sail her across the Atlantic in 2020. We have time but our most pressing requirement – and always has been – is the need for a big sponsor. This is a £4m project and needs serious money. So far we have had the benefit of some generous benefactors to help us cover operating costs but this cannot go on for we need to build. You should bear in mind that much has been done as indicated in our (end of) 2016 Newsletter. As with any such enterprise there are overheads to be paid for; there is ground rent, utility payments, licences, insurances and wages for our handful of staff.
As far as the 501(C) 3 is concerned, yes it is advantageous but we have to apply a cost/benefit analysis to our spending commitments and the renewal of that US tax exemption would cost us $3,000 as recently quoted to us. When we have more funds we can revisit that as an investment overhead. In the meantime our staff and Trustees are working tirelessly trying to obtain donations and funding but during these austere times it is an uphill battle. Our hardworking folk, including volunteers, do not need sniping or negativity from afar or even from the couple of detractors in Harwich. It is hurtful not only to us but also to the Project. There is nothing untoward or “funny going on” in what we are doing and our accounts are properly lodged as required by Charity legislation.
Finally, by all means watch the Project with interest but please bear in mind the bigger picture. We are updating our web site with what we are doing and there will be more news in the next month or so. If you or your cohorts can help with positive ideas or suggestions then we will be willing to listen intently. We welcome visits to the yard but aggressive and groundless criticisms are unhelpful and counter-productive.
Harwich Mayflower Project
Dear Mr Day.
Thank you for finally contacting me, a month after I sent an email asking about the ship build. I see you still refuse to answer any questions about when and if the build will commence. I’ll ask again, what are your plans to build a ship and when do you see this starting?
There was a 2016 newsletter? You’ll have to excuse my not seeing the notifications of that on your social media or website. You did let people know there was a newsletter? Talking of news, I have garnered one piece of information from your email that I was unaware of. After seven years of trying, you are no closer to getting the funds for the ship than you were when you started. Austerity? I’m surprised you didn’t blame Brexit as well!
I want to commend you for actually taking the time to reply to a member of the public, but I would like to also take you to task on the final paragraph of your message. “Cohorts”? I’m assuming this refers to the thousand plus people that follow my blog each month. Or the hundreds of subscribers. Or the people of Harwich that read my blog and are exasperated by your continual lack of information and refusal to answer the most basic of questions. Or maybe it refers to the gentleman from Mystic Seaport that contacted me, or the boat owner who moors in Harwich and wanted to know what was going on. Or maybe the American journalist who thought the project had gone “Kaput” because there is no information coming form you and turned to me for information? Whatever. I also take exception to your assumption of “negativity” and “groundless criticism”. My blog has been, and remains so, a place to follow progress of the Project and inform people as to what is happening. I have as you point out at the start of your message, always been cautiously optimistic and remain so even in the face of the continuing rubbish and downright lies emanating from yourselves. If there is any negativity surrounding the project, it is unfortunately due to the Project itself.
What’s hurtful to the Project is not the public seeking answers, it’s your continued refusal to let people know what is happening and acting like a secret society instead of a public charity. If you continue to hide away and refuse to be honest and open, that Mr Day, will be more hurtful to your project than any blog. You will find no negative, groundless or aggressive comments in my blog. I am simply passing on information that you yourselves do not.
For example. Mr Tom Daly, one of the originators of the HMP has stepped down as a director after seven or so years. This is a man who has contributed endless hours of time and money to the Project, yet you can’t find it in you to make a post online (web, social media) thanking him for all he’s done. Seriously?
The training centre closed “temporarily” and remains closed a year later.
Also. There has been and continues to be, no ship build since 2014. Stop telling people there is a build. There isn’t. Stop telling them to come and see the build progress, there isn’t any.
You refuse to pay $3000 to get US charity status. Are you crazy? You pay tens of thousands for a visitor centre but can’t get the cash for US charity status? You do realise that the Mayflower is a HUGE part of American history? You are aware that every American schoolchild is taught the story? You are aware that every American adult knows the name Mayflower? You do know that there are 35 million people in the US descended from the original 24 males on the Mayflower? Yet you decide to not get US charity status? Ok here’s a criticism for you. You’re idiots!
As for positive ideas Mr Day, here you go. Get your act together. Put up or shut up. If after seven years you still can’t get funding to build a ship, then you should step down and get someone in who can. If you can build it, then do it, if you can’t, have the balls to say so and move on. At the very least you should let people know what the hell is happening behind the murals of the Harwich Railway Yard.
James Kelly (and cohorts)