Special Season: Mayflower 400 – Rotherhithe Illuminated! A Legacy Lighting Scheme To Commemorate Rotherhithe’s Key Role In The Mayflower Story
In this fourth and final part of our mini-series designed to be part of the wonderful Mayflower 400 commemorations—we shine a light, literally and metaphorically, on the historic Rotherhithe on the banks of The Thames.
This fascinating and sometimes overlooked London gem has a stunning history that dates back many centuries. Christopher Jones—the Master and part owner of the Mayflower, lived and died in Rotherhithe, and it is thought to be its final resting place before being broken up.
In keeping with the theme of this week’s conversation, we met up with three special ladies at The Ship Pub in Rotherhithe. Clare Armstrong, Pauline Adenwaller and Michele Page-Jones are driving forward a community led holistic lighting scheme called Rotherhithe Illuminated, with the intention of enhancing nighttime views of some of the areas most and historic sites—from St Mary’s Church, Thames Tunnel Mills, Brunel’s Engine House, as well as the Mayflower Public House and the figurines on The Old School House.
The project will deliver a permanent Mayflower legacy for Rotherhithe, which perfectly compliments the wonderfully inspiring voyage taken 400 years ago. This your London Legacy
“I think some people having twice set out and having to come back lost their resolve. You squeezed more people on one ship than should have been.”
Rotherhithe was the home of Captain, or Master Christopher Jones. He was an exporter of wool and imported wine—his last cargo before sailing for the new world was all wine. His three children were baptized in the church in Rotherhithe and when he set out on the Mayflower the ship was full of other traders looking to find better life and better trade—specifically beaver pelts, a hot commodity back in the 1600s.
The Mayflower met up with the Speedwell in August of 1620, but that ship was felled by leaks and eventually the passengers all packed onto the Mayflower. This kicked off a perilous journey that we know of from a journal kept by William Bradford. This includes a famous story of John Hammond falling overboard, but barely managing to hold onto a rope and pull himself up in the terrible seas the ship was subject to—a tale called The Boy Who Fell Overboard.
Upon returning in 1621, with an empty ship, the Mayflower was left to rot on the foreshore—and Captain Jones died only a year later in 1622 and buried in St. Mary’s church. A sad end to a harrowing tale that has gone on to affect the lives of millions and change the geopolitical landscape across the globe.
“It will make people feel proud…and what used to be called civic pride about the area they live in.”
However, Michele,Clare, and Pauline are set on making sure this tale gets commemorated not only during the Mayflower 400 celebrations, but for years to come. Their lighting project “Illuminate Rotherhithe” sets out to accentuate architecture and monuments in such a way that the features that played a part in this tale stand out at night to be seen by all. It is a celebration of Rotherhithe’s maritime history that includes educational components for children to help tell the story that many in the city still aren’t familiar with.
The trio are still fundraising for the project and I’d highly encourage you to visit the program’s website to find out how you can take part and see this wonderful project and celebration come to life and you can make a donation here at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rotherhithe-illuminated