Pilgrim Embroidery installed by Doncaster Civic Mayor at St Helena’s Church, Austerfield

Cllr Allan Jones, Civic Mayor of Doncaster, accompanied by Civic Mayoress, Mrs Liz Jones, installed one of five Pilgrim Embroideries at St Helena’s Church in Austerfield on Sunday, 22nd August 2021.

Civic Mayor, Cllr Allan Jones with Civic Mayoress, Mrs Liz Jones

Five large embroideries have been made for the Mayflower 400 commemorations by a small group of North Nottinghamshire embroiderers, known as The Pilgrim Embroiderers.

The works are being donated to the churches at Austerfield, Babworth, East Retford, Scrooby and Sturton le Steeple, that can be found along the Pilgrims Trail.

Civic Mayor, Cllr Allan Jones with Jenny King

Designed by Jenny King, they represent the church leaders and typical 17th century congregations, many of whom sailed on the Mayflower.

The embroideries were worked on large frames using specially woven woollen cloth and threads.

The figures on the St. Helena’s embroidery were mainly worked by Fay Evason, the church and background by Jenny King.

Civic Mayor, Cllr Allan Jones with Fay Evason

The embroidery focuses on the story of Austerfield born William Bradford, one of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ leaders.

A book, ‘The Pilgrim Embroideries Made in Retford, Nottinghamshire’, has been published explaining the processes undertaken and the embroidery stitches used, and especially highlights the development of community involvement during the two years of construction from inception to completion. Copies are available from Bassetlaw Museum, and Retford Arts Hub.

Cllr Allan Jones, Civic Mayor of Doncaster said: “I was delighted to install this prestigious Pilgrim Embroidery and to congratulate the Pilgrim Embroiderers on their skill and commitment to producing such an exciting piece of work.”

Rev Becky Hancock, Vicar of The River Idle Benefice which includes Austerfield, said: “We are delighted to receive the embroidery to display in St Helena’s Church. The connections that Austerfield has with history are remarkable, reaching back to the Synod of Austerfield in 702, which debated the fate of St Wilfrid and decided the date of Easter. More recently, local man William Bradford, who was baptised in St Helena’s, became a leader of the Mayflower Pilgrims, signed the Mayflower Compact, was Governor of Plimoth Colony for many years, and recorded the definitive story of the Mayflower Pilgrims from 1606-1646, in his book History of Plimoth Plantation.”

Churchwarden Mrs Kay Beckett with the St Helena’s Embroidery

Jenny King, lead Pilgrim Embroiderer said: “It is a pleasure to donate the embroidery to St. Helena’s Church in Austerfield, and hope it brings interest to many people in the future.”

Isabelle Richards, Heritage Engagement Officer, Pilgrim Roots Project, Bassetlaw Museum said: “It’s fantastic to see the St Helena’s Pilgrim Embroidery installed in the church. This will be a great addition to the attractions of St Helena’s for Pilgrims Trail visitors and a positive sign of the 400th anniversary commemorations for years to come.”

Mayflower Quilt, part of the Quilt Festival at St Helena’s Church