2020's Freedom & Tolerance Forum

Saturday 7th March 2020, 10am – 1pm – free admission, all welcome

The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD

Freedom and Tolerance is as important today as it was 400 years ago – in the anniversary year of the Mayflower Pilgrims, let’s see what history can teach us about journeys, rebellion, and things we take for granted.

Speakers include:

Lord Beith – Member of the House of Lords Constitution Committee and the Lord Speaker’s Committee on the size of the House. MP for Berwick upon Tweed, 1973-2015

Lord Beith

Subject: Methodist Heritage and its significance today

Lord Beith will refer to the heritage of one of the three elements that make up the Methodist church, the United Methodists, who were the most independent-minded and authority-challenging of Methodists, relating this to the significance of religious freedom and toleration.

Professor Elizabeth Tingle – Professor of Early Modern European History at De Montfort University, Leicester. Previously she taught at Plymouth University and the University of Northampton.

Elizabeth Tingle

Subject: Irish Catholic Refugees in Europe in the early 1600s

Professor Tingle specialises in the history of the French Wars of Religion and in the European Catholic/Counter Reformations. She has just completed a project on long-distance pilgrimage in north-west Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Professor Tingle is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a member of the Royal Archaeological Institute and an officer of the Ecclesiastical History Society of Great Britain.

Rev’d Dr Stuart Jennings – Certificate coordinator for Historical Studies at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Warwick, where he had also served across the university as a chaplain from 2006-2017. Specialist in Nottinghamshire history, Warwick University

Stuart Jennings

Subject: Faith and Fighting in Nottinghamshire during the Civil War

Rev’d Dr Jennings received his doctorate from Nottingham Trent University for his work on Puritanism and Protestant Nonconformity in Nottinghamshire, 1600-1700. His book on Newark in the Civil War won the Alan Ball national prize for Local history and he is also the author of 2 books, 17 academic articles and a chapter in three collaborative volumes. He continues to serve as an academic advisor to the National Civil War centre at Newark.

Mr John Pontiflex – Head of Press & Information for Aid to the Church in Need (UK).

John Pontiflex

Subject: Has Religious Freedom become an Orphaned Right?

In his 17 years with the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, John has travelled widely in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He has investigated human rights violations relating to Christians and other faith minorities. He has visited locations where persecution has taken place, interviewing survivors and Church leaders.

John has acted as Editor-in-Chief of ACN’s Religious Freedom in the World, (latest report launched in the House of Lords in November 2018). The report examines the degree to which religious freedom is upheld in 196 countries around the globe. John is a regular media contributor, internationally, on the topic of persecuted Christians.

The first Retford Religious Tolerance Forum was held in 2016 to commemorate the death, in 1616, of Thomas Helwys, the first Baptist martyr, and co-founder, and original advocate of religious tolerance between Christians, Jews, Muslims, and those with no faith. Thomas Helwys was born in Gainsborough, but his family moved to Broxtowe Hall in Bilborough parish, which later became a centre for radical dissenting activism.

This event has been renamed “Freedom & Tolerance” to broaden the scope and better reflect issues of today. This will be the fifth annual Tolerance Forum to be held in Retford. It provides a unique opportunity for the subject to be discussed in an open forum.

Previous speakers have included Baroness Elizabeth Berridge (International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief), John Mann MP, Prof. John Coffey (University of Leicester), Rev Tony Peck (General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation), Imam Bakhtyar Pirzada (Eaton Hall), Dr David Appleby (University of Nottingham), Mr Phil Lyons (CEO National Holocaust Centre) Prof. Larry Kreitzer (Oxford University), Dr Martin Parsons (Barnabas Fund), and Dr Calum Miller (Oxford University).

Focuses on the people and their stories based on faith heritage, with their roots established in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire. The region covered is centred on Retford, with a radius of around 30 miles, including parts of Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire.

Pilgrims Festival 2019 – Babworth Arts Weekend

This year’s Pilgrims Festival Art Exhibition took place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November, with attendance up and the quality of the art on display was outstanding.

This was the fourth year that Babworth Church has held the Pilgrims Art Exhibition, which is part of the Pilgrims Festival commemorating the Mayflower Pilgrim Families’ journey to America, marking the opening of the commemorative 400th year.

All work on display in Babworth Church was inspired by the Separatist and Mayflower Pilgrims’ story. Local artist, Gerry Fruin, was ‘in residence’, showing people how it was done. The Pilgrim Embroiderers were there, and Derek Turner, representing the Rotary Club of Retford, and Joan Turner, representing Retford Civic Society came to see the work first-hand. The Rotary Club of Retford and Retford Civic Society had kindly donated funds to the Pilgrim Embroiderers to enable them to complete their work. Derek became so inspired that he decided to lend a stitch or two adding tremendously to the value of the work!

On Saturday 23rd, there had been a fascinating talk on buttons by textile artist, Diane Hemsley which engaged the audience throughout. David Caseldine came from Worksop to give a talk on Worksop Priory, bringing with him a 400 year old ‘Breeches Bible’ which he showed to everyone. Later in the afternoon Three Piece Suite, who play baroque music entertained everyone so much that they all stopped looking at the art and sat and listened – they were brilliant.

On Sunday 24th, there was a talk by local author and historian, Adrian Gray who captivated people with his story of the Prophetess from Carlton in Lindrick of 1641. Prophecies of doom and redemption – the audience was asked to make its own mind up about what they believed – everyone was enthralled.

Pilgrims Festival 2019 – Illuminate parade – another success for Retford!

The crowds turned out in the rain to take part in the Pilgrims Festival Illuminate Parade on Friday 22nd November.

This was the fifth year that Retford has taken part in the commemorations of the Mayflower Pilgrim Families’ journey to America. These events form the opening of the commemorative year leading to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage in 2020 .

Retford’s event on 22nd was the fourth in the Pilgrim Roots area following Gainsborough on 16th, Bawtry on 17th and Boston on 21st November, with increasing numbers taking part and turning out to watch. Retford’s event was even more successful!

Retford’s lantern parade started outside Wilko’s on Carolgate at 5.30pm and walked to St Swithun’s Parish Church. The parade was led by the Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council, Cllr Deborah Merryweather and Retford Mayor, Garry Clarkson. Local uniformed groups, schools and voluntary organisations came with lanterns that they had made in workshops with artist Kirsty Champ. Specially commissioned large lanterns were made by artists Julie Willoughby and Jess Kemp. The pipers from the Retford Pipe and Drum band provided the music and members of the Retford Lions helped with the larger lanterns and with marshalling the parade.

There was an all-age event at St Swithun’s Parish Church led by Rev’d Mark Cantrill, including performances by Rhubarb Theatre and the Songbirds choir, followed by the ever popular ‘400’ photograph in the churchyard, and a fantastic light projection show on the side of the church commissioned from specialists Electric Egg .

Refreshments were provided afterwards inside the church, and Bassetlaw Christian Heritage Chair, Rick Brand, presented Veda Brocklesby, representing St Swithun’s, and Dr Anna Scott with bouquets as thanks for their support and help since the first Pilgrims Festival.

Bassetlaw Christian Heritage (BCH) is delighted to have received funding from Arts Council England, with support from the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, and District Councillors Carolyn Troop, Helen Richards and Joan Sanger via their community grants.

Visitor numbers to the area are already increasing, and are forecast to increase further, as 2020 grows closer. The story of the Mayflower Pilgrim families and their roots in the area in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, is becoming better known.

You can find out more about the story on this website or by visiting the Pilgrims Gallery in Bassetlaw Museum, Retford, the Pilgrims Museum at The Hub in Churchgate, Retford, and the Pilgrims Room at the United Reformed Church in Gainsborough.

BCH is grateful to Arts Council England, the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, Bassetlaw District Councillors, St Swithun’s Parish Church, the Methodist Church, Scouts, Guides and schools in Bassetlaw for their continuing support.

Photo credit: Electric Egg for BCH

Pilgrims Festival 2019

There are plenty of events happening in and around North Nottinghamshire as part of this year’s Pilgrims Festival – marking the official opening of the Mayflower 400 commemorative year!

Retford’s Illuminate event

Friday 22nd November 2019

This year’s Illuminate event in Retford will be on Friday 22nd November 2019, starting at 5.30pm. This will be the fifth year that Retford commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrim Families’ journey to America, as we arrive at 2020, the 400th anniversary of their arrival in America. This year’s events mark the opening of the commemorative year, and have been made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England.

This year’s Pilgrims Festival Illuminate events have been successfully will start in Gainsborough with Illuminate on 16th November, followed by Bawtry on 17th November, with increasing numbers taking part and turning out to watch. Let’s make Retford’s event even more successful!

Retford will see its lantern parade assembling from 5pm outside Wilko’s on Carolgate and walking to St Swithun’s Parish Church, starting at 5.30pm. Local uniformed groups, schools and voluntary organisations have been making lanterns with artists and will be taking part in the parade to support this local community event.

The parade will arrive at St Swithun’s Parish Church at around 6pm where there will be an all-age event at St Swithun’s Parish Church led by Rev’d Mark Cantrill, including performances by Rhubarb Theatre and the Songbirds choir, followed by the ever popular ‘400’ photograph in the churchyard, and a fantastic light projection show on the side of the church commissioned from Electric Egg. Refreshments will be available afterwards inside the church. Everyone is very welcome – please wear appropriate warm clothing – it is November.

Rhubarb Theatre delivers creative, original and theatrical experiences which stimulate children’s imaginations. Set up in 2000, they have grown to a full time professional touring company and registered charity, specialising in education and entertainment performance for children and families

Mayflower in a Storm, by Gerry Fruin

Babworth Arts Weekend

Saturday 23rd-Sunday 24th November

This year’s Pilgrims Festival Art Exhibition will be on Saturday 23rd (10am-4pm) and Sunday 24th (12-4pm) November. This will be the fourth year that Babworth Church has held the Pilgrims Art Exhibition.

All work on display in Babworth Church will have been inspired by the Separatist and Mayflower Pilgrims story. Any artists may provide their work which should be delivered to Babworth Church on Thursday 21st November between 12pm and 5pm with a short identifying summary. The Art Exhibition will be open to the public from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 23rd November and between 12pm and 4pm on Sunday 24th November.

Entry to the event is free, refreshments are available for a small charge, and donations to the Church are always welcome. The Pilgrim Embroiderers will be there, so you can see how it is done!

Here is the programme of events for the weekend:

Saturday 23rd November:
• 11am: A talk on buttons by local crafter, Diane Hemsley
• 12pm: A talk on Worksop Priory by Priory tour guide, David Caseldine
• 2pm: Three Piece Suite play baroque music
Sunday 24th November
• 3pm: A talk by local author and historian, Adrian Gray on themes from his new book arriving in 2020

Worksop’s Illuminate event

Wednesday 27th November

For the first time there will be a Pilgrims Festival Illuminate event in Worksop, thanks to a grant from Arts Council England to BCH. It will be on Wednesday 27th November 2019.

Illuminate will start at 5.00pm for 5.30pm with all-age event at The Crossing, Newcastle Avenue, with performances by Rhubarb Theatre and the Songbirds choir. There will then be a parade to Worksop Priory where a ‘400’ photograph will be taken outside the west door, and a fantastic light projection show will take place on the outside of the south wall.

Mince pies and mulled wine will be available inside the Priory. There will be the chance to preview the Priory’s Christmas Tree Festival as well as to see the larger illuminated lanterns close up. Everyone is very welcome – please wear appropriate warm clothing – it is November.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thursday 28th November

There will be a Thanksgiving Dinner, with entertainment, at Spencer’s on the Square, in Retford, at 7pm on Thursday 28th November (Thanksgiving Day).

If you’re looking for an excuse for a good night out or a location for a work Christmas ‘Do’, contact 01777 800230, or call in to book (£30 each).

An afternoon at Worksop Priory

Spend an afternoon enjoying a guided tour
of the church, its gatehouse and the site of the ancient Augustinian Priory.

Venue: Worksop Priory, Priorswell Rd, Worksop, Nottinghamshire S80 2LJ

An impressive restoration programme has just ended resulting in a breath-taking transformation of the town’s 12th century Norman Church.

A thousand year old wall carving…a 17th Century Fox’s Book of Martyrs hidden within its walls.. and much else to learn about. Find the 14th century Crusader Crosses and the 15th century skull from the battle of the War of the Roses.. a Gateford girl’s part in the execution of Henry Vlll’s fifth wife Catherine Howard.

No need to book – just come along and enjoy an afternoon here at the Priory. The Prioy don’t charge admission but will ask for a donation if you have enjoyed your time there, otherwise it’s free.

Enquiries: Tel 01909 475934

Next tours (all starting at 2pm):

  • Wednesday September 4th
  • Saturday September 14th
  • Wednesday October 9th
  • Wednesday November 6th

Pilgrims Festival in Retford and now also in Worksop!

Retford will see this year’s Pilgrims Festival Illuminate Lantern Parade walk along Carolgate to the Market Square, starting at 5.30pm on Friday 22nd November 2019. The parade will arrive at St Swithun’s Parish Church at around 6pm where there will be a service starting at 6.15pm, including performances, followed by the ever popular ‘400’ photograph in the churchyard and light refreshments afterwards. Everyone is welcome.

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Retford’s Illuminate parade (Credit: Electric Egg)

Discussions are currently taking place with local uniformed groups, schools and voluntary organisations about how they can take part and support this event. Further details about lantern-making workshops in October and November will be available on the BCH website soon.

st swithun's bird by electric egg_pilgrim roots_BCH
Illuminate 2018 lantern commissioned from artist Jess Kemp (Credit: Electric Egg)

This will be the fifth year that BCH will work with Retford to commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower Pilgrim Families’ journey to the ‘New World’, as part of the countdown to 2020, the 400th anniversary. There are also events planned at Gainsborough on 16th , and at Austerfield and Bawtry on 17th November 2019.

retford st swithun's windmill electric egg_pilgrim roots_bch 201118
Retford Illuminate 2018 (Credit: Electric Egg)

New for 2019! The Mayflower Pilgrims Story comes to Worksop!

There will be activities at The Crossing, on Newcastle Street, followed by a parade along Memorial Avenue to Worksop Priory where there will be activities telling the Mayflower Pilgrims’ Story and why it relates to Worksop. BCH is looking to engage with schools and uniformed groups from the Worksop area interested in actively participating in these events, and volunteers to help on the day are always welcome.

rhubarb theatre outside st swithun's by electric egg_pilgrim roots_BCH
Illuminate 2018, featuring Rhubarb Theatre (Credit: Electric Egg)

The very popular Arts Exhibition at Babworth Church returns on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November featuring works inspired by the Pilgrims Story – all are welcome – for further information contact us. Refreshments will be available, and this year there will be some exciting new exhibits and a range of talks and performances throughout the weekend, and entry is free!

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Babworth Church Art Exhibition

Music events are currently being discussed and details will be available on the BCH website later in the year.

There will be a Thanksgiving Dinner, with entertainment, at Spencer’s on the Square in Retford, on Thursday 28th November, which really is Thanksgiving Day. If you are looking for an excuse for a good night out or a location for a work Christmas ‘Do’, contact 01777 800230.

BCH, working as part of the Pilgrim Roots consortium, is organising this year’s activities, supported by the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham and individual Bassetlaw District Councillors.

Visitor numbers to the area are already increasing, and are forecast to increase further, as 2020 grows closer. The story of the Mayflower Pilgrim families and their roots in the area in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, is becoming better known. It is hoped that more events and activities relating to this story will be developed throughout next year.

To find out more about the story, The Hub in Churchgate, Retford, has a Pilgrims Room that contains an overview of the Mayflower Pilgrims and their roots, and the Pilgrims Gallery in Bassetlaw Museum will be officially open from 19th September 2019.

BCH is looking for volunteers at all levels of engagement – whether you want to join in the planning or help with refreshments, we would love to hear from you.

BCH is grateful to the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, Bassetlaw District Councillors, and Churches Together in Retford for their continuing support.

The Pilgrim Embroiderers

The Pilgrim Embroiderers is a small group of dedicated needle workers based in Retford, Nottinghamshire.

At present, the group is producing five embroideries depicting the churches and congregations of Babworth, Scrooby, Austerfield, Sturton le Steeple and St Swithun’s, Retford, during the early days of the Separatist movement in and around Retford.

It is planned for the works to be completed by the end of 2019 in time for display during the Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020.

Embroiderers at work in Babworth Church

The embroideries have been designed by Jenny King to include depictions and text about the church leaders and local young villagers, many of whom will have travelled to America as Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620.

The embroideries are worked on specially woven woollen cloth using woollen threads, and will be approximately 90cm x 70cm when framed.

BCH Chair Rick Brand with Cllr Helen Richards and the Pilgrim Embroiderers at Babworth Church

The works are being donated to the respective churches once completed, and therefore need to be appropriately stretched and framed. BCH have been supporting the fundraising for the framing, which will cost around £1,000.

If you’d like to make a donation to help towards the costs of framing, please get in touch. BCH would like to thank Bassetlaw District Councillor Helen Richards for her donation to the project.

Embroiderers working in Spencer’s on the Square, Retford

Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, to visit Retford

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, will be telling “the Sentamu Story” at St Swithun’s Parish Church in Retford on Thursday 12th September 2019. This is his first public engagement as part of the One Life Mission to the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham.

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Archbishop John Sentamu

All are welcome to attend, the evening will be informal, and there will be an opportunity for questions from the public. The event will be announced by a quarter peal of bells from about 6.15pm, and from 7pm to 7.20pm tea and coffee will be served inside the church. The event will start at 7.30pm with a welcome from the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, followed by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, telling his story. There will then be a question-and-answer session followed by light refreshments in the church.
This is a great opportunity for everyone, not only churchgoers, to come and hear one of the most popular speakers of today. Most people have heard of John Sentamu, whether from playing drums, cutting up his dog collar on TV, or sky-diving with the Red Devils parachute team. Sentamu has spoken out on issues including young people, the family, slavery, injustice and conflict abroad.

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John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu was born into Uganda’s Buffalo clan on the 10th June 1949. Encouraged in his education by English missionaries and teachers, he graduated in law from Makerere University, Kampala and is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda. He practised Law both at the Bar and at the Bench before he came to the UK in 1974.

He read theology at Selwyn College Cambridge where he gained a Masters Degree and a Doctorate. He trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Dr John Sentamu was installed as the 97th Archbishop of York in November 2005 and has announced his retirement for June 2020, so for many people, this may be the last opportunity to see him in his current role.

Retford Mayor and BCH supports Retford at rail event in London

A team from North Nottinghamshire “let the train take the strain” on a trip to London to promote Retford and the surrounding area. Cllr Garry Clarkson, Retford’s Deputy Mayor, joined the team from North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership (NNLCRP), the Poacher Line, and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) at an event in Kings Cross Station in London on Friday 17th May 2019.

Dressed in his mayoral robes, Cllr Clarkson was a very popular subject for photographs with many of the visitors.

Throughout the day, the team handled a constant stream of enquiries about the Mayflower Pilgrims, and the areas being promoted – even a conversation about commuting from Retford to London. Through leaflets designed for the event, Retford Business Forum highlighted the many exciting events planned for the rest of 2019, including Summer on the Square, Heritage Day and Pilgrims Festival – led by BCH; Bassetlaw District Council provided information on Pilgrim Roots and the Mayflower Trail.

A range of leaflets, promoting Mayflower 400, Retford, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Boston and Skegness, were handed out to passengers and visitors by the teams from 5am to 6pm.

The focus of the display was the Mayflower 400 story and was part of a promotion with other community rail partnerships from Essex, Southampton, Devon and Cornwall which had also held Mayflower 400 events at a range of London mainline railway stations on Wednesday 15th May.

The groups took part in ‘Community Rail in the City’, a flagship annual celebration, now in its ninth year, aimed at developing tourism and travel for recreation on Britain’s community rail routes, encouraging thousands of people to explore epic landscapes, coastal scenes, and sites of historic interest.

This year’s event saw 36 community rail partnerships and tourism partners – up from 24 groups last year – hosting activities at 20 mainline railway stations, including those in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Groups spoke to an estimated 75,000 people across the event, giving out information promoting the tourism opportunities accessible via Britain’s expanding community rail network.

Rick Brand, Vice Chair of NNLCRP, and Chair of the Bassetlaw Area Group, and also Chair of BCH, said “Community Rail in the City is a great opportunity to promote our railway lines to thousands of commuters and potential visitors. We highlight the fantastic things there are to see and explore and encourage people to visit by rail. As well as being a more relaxing and pleasurable way to travel, visiting the area by rail benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities.”

Community rail partnerships work at grassroots level to engage local communities, help people to get the most from their railways, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.

The event was organised by ACoRP, the umbrella body for community rail groups across Britain, which supports its members to work with partners to integrate rail travel into their area’s local tourism offer.

From 20th May 2019, a significantly increased number of trains is being provided on the East-West line as the new service opens from Sheffield to Gainsborough Central, including Worksop and Retford. The new LNER Azuma trains were also introduced from 15th May 2019 bringing shorter journey times and greater travel comfort.

Retford Railway Station already counts over 500,000 passengers per year and this number will increase not only with larger numbers of tourists visiting Mayflower Pilgrims Country in the run-up to 2020, but also as the convenience of the connectivity of Retford becomes more widely known up and down the East Coast Mainline.

North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership works towards integrating public and private service provision to offer travellers an effective and efficient range of transport choices. It works in partnership with transport operators, public and private organisations to serve the needs of the communities within which it operates.

Photographs courtesy of Rick Brand and Barry Coward, NNLCRP and Paul Webster, ACoRP.

Fourth Annual Heritage Conference held in Retford

Thirty heritage specialists travelled to Retford from across the UK to listen to fourteen presentations at this year’s national Christian Heritage Conference, held on Friday 8th March 2019 at The Well.

Organisations involved in the development and delivery of heritage-based activities met to exchange best practice and form future partnerships.

Because of the local story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, and the importance of that story to the area in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage started the annual conference in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of local reformer Thomas Helwys. It is now firmly established on the national heritage calendar.

Local historian, and author of the book From Here We Changed The World, Adrian Gray, led the day, focusing on the importance of the local people. There then followed a series of presentations by the following organisations:

This event continues to attract national interest in Retford and the next event is being planned for Friday 6th March 2020.