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Pilgrim Visitor Centre Opens – find out about the people from in and around Retford who changed the world

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The first permanent location telling the stories of the Mayflower Pilgrims and Separatists will open as the Pilgrims Visitor Centre in The Hub during the Retford Arts Festival on Saturday 27th May 2017. The Centre will help schools, visitors, and everyone living in and around Retford to understand the stories of the local people who made a difference 400 years ago and, through their actions, still do today.

The new Mayflower Pilgrims Visitor Centre in the heart of Retford will open to the public on Saturday May 27th. The Hub is grateful to Nottinghamshire County Council and other local companies who have helped provide funding. This has enabled the volunteers who run the Centre to create a visitor attraction telling some of the most important stories about the people from this area.

The Centre tells the stories through a series of sets, pictoral displays, interactive technology and audio visual content. It covers the stories of the people and events that took place, what it was like in those times and how they survived as well as the story of the Pilgrims and the associated religious aspects. There are also displays of artefacts and historic writing material. There is a special area for children to enjoy as well as children’s content throughout.

400 years ago, our region was at the forefront of religious thinking. One group was so passionate about religious freedom that they risked their lives to travel to Holland and then on to America. They became known as the Pilgrim Fathers and were the forefathers of modern day America. Their beliefs in personal freedom, through the Mayflower Compact, were to ultimately influence the American Constitution, arguably the most important document in the Western World. However, there is much more to the story because the group and their contempories also founded the Baptist and Congregational denominations. The area in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, is one of the most important centres of religious heritage worldwide, but the fact is virtually unrecognised.

Now, The Hub (North Notts Artisan and Tourist Information Centre) is opening a Visitor Centre dedicated to these pioneers. Chris Daniels from the centre said: “We are very excited that, after years of talking, we are finally able to build a centre to their memory. What they did was an incredible achievement, to travel across continents spreading the word, against the odds in a deep and dark time of oppression, risking their lives, and to ultimately create a settlement that was to lead to the United States of America, is one of the greatest global stories of all time. It is fitting that with just 3 years to the 400th Anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower Pilgrims, we can start telling the story where it began, in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire. Our area is one of the most important areas in the world for religious development.

We are aiming to create a centre that will be for local people as well as to attract tourists into Retford to help boost our economy. It is important to understand why these world-changing events took place in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire. The centre will consist of pictorial displays and stories of events and characters, there will be audio visual content using the latest technology and there will be artefacts collected over the years and important books and papers about the history. The aim will be to make it relevant to all ages to explain why these world-changing events took place here.”

It is hoped that the centre will form part of a much improved ‘Pilgrim Trail’ and act as a conduit with new visitor points at a number of key venues including the Pilgrims Churches at Austerfield, Babworth, Gainsborough (URC), St Swithun’s Retford, Scrooby, and Sturton-le-Steeple. The Pilgrim Fathers Origins Association has been working on the Scrooby connection for some time since this is of great significance to America. Sue Allan, Chair, said: “We are very pleased that finally we are to achieve something tangible and we welcome working with the North Notts Artisan and Tourist Information Centre and offer our support to realise the first part of the plan.” Bassetlaw Christian Heritage has also made significant progress in raising awareness of the Separatists’ stories and the forthcoming Mayflower Pilgrims’ 400th anniversary. Rick Brand, Chair, said: “We have a good relationship with the Hub, and look forward to helping the Mayflower Pilgrim Centre to develop as part of an integrated approach to the Separatists and the Mayflower Pilgrims in and around Retford.”

There are still opportunities for businesses to become involved or associated with this project, which will have a high public profile and is a stepping stone to further activities. The Centre will open to the public, and will be able to offer tours for groups and schools including talks on a variety of subjects. The Hub is open 10am – 4pm Monday-Saturday except Tuesday 10am- 1pm.

For more information visit www.retfordhub.org

The Hub, 11 Churchgate, Retford, DN22 6PA

Posted on 16 May 2017

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