Worksop Priory Vicar celebrates birthday as Christmas Tree Festival hosts successful ‘Rebels and Religion’ Pilgrims Exhibition

It was Fr Nicholas Spicer’s 55th birthday on Saturday 3rd December, when around 400 visitors arrived at Worksop Priory Church to look at the Christmas trees, and the Pilgrims Exhibition, and enjoy the hospitality of the Christmas Fair.  Over 1000 visitors called in between 30th November and 4th December to see the annual Christmas Tree Festival, including for the first time an exhibition on the Separatists and Mayflower Pilgrims, in the historic setting of Worksop Priory.

Visitors of all ages enjoyed the colourful display of over 30 beautifully decorated Christmas Trees from local organisations, including Worksop Rotary, Bassetlaw Food Bank, Joel The Complete Package, Church Bellringers, The Crossing, Worksop WI, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Bassetlaw Hospice, Bassetlaw Community and Voluntary Services, and Bluebell Wood.

The Pilgrims Exhibition is being promoted in 2016 as part of Bassetlaw District Council’s theme of ‘Rebels and Religion’; it tells the story of the Separatists who left England to go to Holland, some of whom ended up as the Mayflower Pilgrims, who successfully founded the Plimouth Colony in the New World. This became the event from which the United States of America traces its origins. The Mayflower Compact, which was drawn up, and signed, by people from in and around Bassetlaw is acknowledged as the basis for the United States Constitution.

Worksop Priory also featured in the Separatists debate through its Vicar, Richard Bernard, who sympathised with the Separatists, Brewster and Robinson, but decided to stay and purify the Church from within, becoming part of the Puritan movement. His daughter, Mary, married Roger Williams, a Baptist, and together they travelled to the New World and eventually founded what is now Rhode Island State. Williams was a student of Native American languages, an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans, and one of the first abolitionists in North America, who organized the first attempt to prohibit slavery in any of the British American colonies.

There are many stories of people who lived in and around Bassetlaw, who have changed the world, and whose legacy continues to make a difference today. The Congregational, Baptist, and Methodist churches were all founded by people from this area, as was the United States, and the first Quaker martyr came from Retford. The personality characteristics of independent thinking, passion, and tolerance are as much alive today as they were in the past.