Coming up in 2018:


15-25 November 2018

Free lantern-making workshops

Free lantern-making workshops – make a lantern and join the parade in Retford on Tuesday 20 November.
Tuesday 30th October – 10am – 4pm, with artist Jessica Kemp at Retford Library
Friday 2nd November – 10am – 4pm, with artist Kirsty Champ at Bassetlaw Museum, Retford

Thanksgiving Dinner

Venue: Spencer’s on the Square, Retford
Thursday 15th November 6.30pm for 7pm
3 course dinner plus entertainment from Adam Schofield and Jessica Mary Brett (£29.95) Call 01777 800230 to book

Pilgrims Art Exhibition

Featuring art inspired by the Pilgrims Story
Venue: Babworth Parish Church, near Retford
Saturday 17th November 10am – 4pm with a talk by local historian Adrian Gray at 11am
Sunday 18th November 12pm – 4pm- see working embroiders and artist
Refreshments available

Austerfield & Bawtry – Sunday 18th November
11.15am: Candle-lighting Holy Communion service at St Helena’s Church, AUSTERFIELD – home of William Bradford, Mayflower Pilgrim
4pm: Hog roast at Bawtry Hall followed by a lantern parade through BAWTRY
4.40pm: the ‘400’ photograph
5pm: Parade processes around Bawtry
5.30pm: Bawtry Hall — church service including a performance by the Bawtry Mayflower Choir

Retford — Tuesday 20th November
5.30pm: Parade from Carolgate to St Swithun’s Parish Church
6pm: St Swithun’s all age event, led by Rev Mark Cantrill, with the Elizabethan Academy, Katie Green’s Imagination Museum: Mayflower 400 and the Songbirds
7pm: the ‘400’ photograph, then refreshments for all in the Church

5.30pm: Registration for parade participants from 5.30pm at the United Reformed Church, followed by a performance
6pm: Service & performance at the United Reformed Church featuring Made by Katie Green’s The Imagination Museum: Mayflower 400
6.45pm: Parade through Gainsborough from Parish Church to Gainsborough Old Hall, the Market Place and finishing in Marshall’s Yard at about 7.15pm (event led by West Lindsey District Council)

5pm: St Wilfrid’s Parish Church – talk by local author, genealogist and historian Sue Allan, a short operatic performance by opera singer, Kamilla Dunstan and a candle-lighting service
6pm: parade around the village ending at the Village Hall for a performance by Retford’s Elizabethan Academy Drama Group, and refreshments (event led by Bassetlaw District Council)

Other candle-lighting services are taking place on Sunday 18th November at GAINSBOROUGH All Saints (joint with URC) and BABWORTH church. STURTON-LE-STEEPLE church will also be holding a joint event with the local primary school during the Festival Week.

Music at Worksop Priory

Monday 19th November 7pm for 7.30pm
International Mediaeval Harpist Leah Stuttard returns to the Priory – this year Leah is playing her Sacred Fragments programme – the evening will start with a short talk about the Priory and its place in the Mayflower Pilgrims Story
£10 entry incl. mince pies & mulled wine

Friday 23rd November 7pm for 7.30pm
Doncaster Waites: Music from the streets from the time of the Pilgrims – Doncaster Waites both play and explain historic instruments in an entertaining and engaging way. The evening will start with a talk about Worksop Priory and the Mayflower Pilgrims (a different speaker to Monday)
£10 entry incl. mince pies & mulled wine

Pilgrims Fun Run

Sunday 25th November 9.15am from Retford Market Square
Starts off the Retford Christmas Market and Lights Switch-On – prizes for the best children’s and adult’s pilgrim outfit – its for fun! In partnership with Retford Business Forum and TLS, supporting Bassetlaw Hospice

Past events



Date: Friday 9th March 2018, 10.30am – 4.00pm
Venue: The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, Notts., DN22 7BD

BCH hold an annual Christian Heritage Conference featuring delegates from across the UK involved with Christian heritage sites and projects. Discussions and speakers explore issues surrounding faith-based heritage, tourism and education. For further information, please contact Adrian Gray 


Date: Saturday March 10th 2018, 10am-1pm
Venue: The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD
Event: Invited Speakers on ‘Religious Tolerance’ – past and present
Free event, all welcome, with mid-morning refreshments break. This year’s event is supported by Bassetlaw District Council. Our speakers include:

  • Dr David Appleby – Lecturer in Early Modern British History, University of Nottingham, and adviser to the National Civil War Museum, on freedom and persecution in the post civil war era
  • Masoud Ahmadi – International Liberty Association, talking about his escape from persecution
  • Phil Lyons – CEO of the National Holocaust Centre, who will describe the work done at the Centre and discuss the use of survivor testimony and recent innovations, including the Forever project


  • Ben Huxtable of Release International and Andrew Smith of Open Doors
  • A video of an interview with Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury

For more information, please contact Adrian Gray 


Date: Saturday 10th February, 10am-4pm & Sunday 11th February 2018, 12-4pm
Venue: All Saints’ Church, Babworth
Talk: ‘Richard Clifton’ by tour guide Maggy Watkins – Saturday 10th February, 2pm

The snowdrops surrounding All Saints’ Church at Babworth provide a wonderful display of nature showing the first beginnings of a new year of growth. Walk along the Snowdrop Trail before a cup of tea and a cake inside the church. Look around at some of the features of the Pilgrims’ church itself – can you find all of the “Mousies”? Produce and plants for sale. Toilet and disabled facilities; car park. Entry is free, everyone welcome.



This year’s Pilgrims Festival starts on Saturday and Sunday 18th & 19th November with a Pilgrims inspired Art Exhibition at Babworth Church and Worksop Priory, followed by a range of events in Austerfield and Bawtry on Sunday 19th November; Retford on Tuesday 21st November; and Gainsborough on Wednesday 22nd November. A Thanksgiving Day Dinner is planned at Spencer’s on the Square in Retford on Thursday 23rd November and a concert by Doncaster Waites at Scrooby Village Hall on Friday 24th November. The Christmas Tree Festival at St Swithun’s and the Star Festival at the Grove will start on Saturday 25th November and the Christmas lights will be switched on in Bawtry and Retford on Sunday 26th November.


Illuminate Lantern Parade, Bawtry and Austerfield

Join residents in Austerfield and Bawtry in South Yorkshire as they commemorate their historic links to the Pilgrims’ story – starting in William Bradford’s home village – and finishing with a lantern parade in nearby Bawtry on Sunday 19 November 2017.

Find out more at Eventbrite.


Illuminate Lantern Parade, Retford town centre

Join us for our first Illuminate Lantern Parade commemorating Bassetlaw’s role in the Pilgrims’ story, by making lanterns with professional artists then joining Retford’s Illuminate Parade on Tuesday 21 November 2017 – an Arts Council England funded project led by Bassetlaw District Council.

Free Lantern Workshops at:

  • Aurora Wellbeing Centre, Worksop (S80 2BP) Tuesday 24 October 10am-4pm – with Jess Kemp
  • Bassetlaw Museum, Retford (DN22 6LD) Friday 27 October 10am-4pm – with Jess Kemp
  • Grove Street Methodist Church, Retford (DN22 6LB) Saturday 11 November 10am-4pm & Sunday 12 November 12pm-5pm – with Jess Kemp & Vincent Canning

Register on Tuesday 21 November from 4.30pm on Carolgate (near Wilko’s) for a parade start of 5pm to the Market Square

Illuminate Service, St Swithun’s Parish Church, Retford

Date: Tuesday 21 November 2017, 6pm

Retford’s Illuminate service this year is based on the theme of Pilgrim Women, featuring drama from Elizabethan Academy students, music from the Songbirds Choir and special guest speaker Rev Paulina Hlawiczka, from the Trinity Lutheran Church in Nottingham.


Illuminate joint candle-lighting service, All Saints Parish Church, Gainsborough

Date & time: Sunday 19 November, 10.30am

All welcome to Gainsborough’s joint service between All Saints and the United Reformed Church, in preparation for the Illuminate Service at the United Reformed Church on Wednesday 22 November (6pm).

Pilgrims Autumn Fayre, United Reformed Church, Gainsborough

Date: Tuesday 21 November, 9.30am-12pm

The URC will be holding their Pilgrims Autumn Fayre during the usual Coffee Morning. The URC will continue to be open from 12-2pm that day, when visitors may take the opportunity to look around the Bassetlaw Christian Heritage Pilgrims’ exhibition – focusing on Gainsborough’s links to Separatist leaders John Smyth and John Robinson. Also open to visitors from 10am-2pm on Thursday 23 November and 10am-12pm on Saturday 25 November during Coffee Morning.

Illuminate Lantern Parade, Gainsborough town centre

Join us for our first Illuminate Lantern Parade commemorating West Lindsey’s role in the Pilgrims’ story, by making lanterns with professional artists then joining Gainsborough’s Illuminate Parade on Wednesday 22 November 2017 – an Arts Council England funded project with West Lindsey District Council.

Free Lantern Workshops at:

  • Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough (DN21 2AL) Monday 23 October 10am-4pm – with Julie Willoughby of zoomorphia
  • X-Church, Gainsborough (DN21 1BY) Thursday 26 October 10am-4pm – with Kirsty Champ
  • United Reformed Church, Gainsborough (DN21 2JR) Saturday 18 November 10am-4pm & Sunday 19 November 10am-4pm – with Julie Willoughby & Vincent Canning

Register on Wednesday 22 November from 4.30pm on Silver Street (near Argos) for a parade start of 5pm to Gainsborough Old Hall.

Illuminate Service, United Reformed Church, Gainsborough

Date: Wednesday 22 November, 6pm

Gainsborough’s first Illuminate Service will take place after the lantern parade in the URC, with special guest speak Rev Geoffrey Clarke, Deputy Moderator of the East Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church. Kismet Theatre will perform the story of the Pilgrims, and Songbirds Choir will perform the Pilgrim anthem which was commissioned in Boston two years ago.


Date: Saturday 14th October 2017

Music Workshop: 9.30am – 5.30pm

Service: 7pm

Venue: St. Saviour’s Church, Welham Road, Retford, DN22 6QW

Between 9.30am and 5.30pm Andy Watts of The Carnival Band will help participants explore the musical heritage of Martin Luther and the Reformation, and ways in which it developed in England, particularly the West Gallery music as performed today by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band. The number of places for singers and instrumentalists is limited to 50 (£10 including lunch).

Places can be booked at search for Luther 500 Applications, or

The workshop will be followed by a REFORMATION 500 COMMEMORATION SERVICE at 7pm in St Saviour’s Church to which everyone is invited. The music and songs rehearsed during the day will be included and the preacher will be the Rev Paulina Hlawiczka, the Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Nottingham.


Date: Saturday 9 September 2017

Venue: United Reformed Church, Gainsborough

Gainsborough’s John Robinson Memorial Church will be open for Heritage Open Days, featuring an exhibition about Gainsborough’s Separatist heritage, including the key figures John Robinson and John Smyth.


Date: Sunday 16th July 20171 – 4pm

Venue: Grove Street Methodist Church, Union Street, DN22 6LB

Dr Jill Barber will lead a Seminar on using the Heritage of Churches for Christian Mission.

Dr Jill Barber, is a past Vice-President of the Methodist Conference & Project Director of Engelsea Brook Chapel & Museum of Primitive Methodism.

The seminar will help churches think about how they use their history to tell the gospel story today.

Starts with buffet lunch (booked attendees only). To book please email or ring and leave a message on 01777 702786 by Wednesday 12th July.


Dates: Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th July 2017

Venues: Churches across Bassetlaw 

Visit churches across the Bassetlaw & Bawtry deanery this July. Find out more in the official brochure.

Open Churches Weekend 2017
Find out more about Bassetlaw’s open churches in July 2017


Date: Saturday 11th March 2017, 9.30am – 1.00pm

Venue: The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD

Professor John Coffey (University of Leicester) heads the programme at this year’s Retford Annual Religious Tolerance Conference at the Well on March 11th.

John Coffey
Prof John Coffey

John Coffey is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Leicester. He will give an historical approach to the ideas of persecution and tolerance in religion, politics and ideas through the 17th and 18th centuries. He has written extensively on this subject, and is the author of four books including Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England, 1558-1689 (2000) and Exodus and Liberation: Deliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr(2014). He was the co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism (2008).

Rev Canon Tony Walker, Area Team Rector, Retford Area Team Ministry will interview Imam Bakhtyar Pirzada, Deputy Principal, Eaton Hall, on Islamic teachings and debates on tolerance.

Andrew Haigh, CCO, International Christian Consulate will give a modern-day perspective on religious tolerance through the subject of Christian refugees in the Middle East.

The event will be introduced by Cllr Jim Anderson, Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council, with a concluding summary and reflections from John Mann MP and Cllr Jo White, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Bassetlaw District Council.

Following on from our successful event in March 2016, when we commemorated the anniversary of the death of Thomas Helwys, supported by Baroness Berridge and Rev Tony Peck, we are now making this an annual event to focus on the subject of religious tolerance. Last year’s event resulted in a Radio 4 Sunday Worship broadcast live from The Well in October 2016, on the same subject.

We are very grateful to Bassetlaw District Council and Churches Together in Retford for their continuing support.

Free event – everyone welcome.


Date: Friday 10th March 2017, 10.30am – 4.00pm

Venue: The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD

This year’s BCH Christian Heritage Conference features delegates from across the UK to explore issues surrounding faith-based heritage, tourism and education. The conference is now fully booked. For further information, please contact us.


Date: Saturday 11th February, 10am-4pm & Sunday 12th February 2017, 12-4pm

Venue: All Saints’ Church, Babworth

Talk: ‘Richard Clifton’ by tour guide Maggy Watkins – Saturday 11th February, 11am

The snowdrops surrounding All Saints’ Church at Babworth provide a wonderful display of nature showing the first beginnings of a new year of growth. The setting of the church deserves its title of ‘The Church in the Woodland’. Part of the Mayflower Pilgrims exhibition will also be on display in the church throughout the weekend.

Take a walk along the Snowdrop Trail to get your appetite for a cup of tea and a cake inside the church. Look around at some of the features of the Pilgrims’ church itself – can you find all of the “Mousies”? Buy some produce and plants – but be early, they go quickly.

Toilet and disabled facilities; car park. Entry is free, everyone welcome.



Dates: Wednesday 30 November – Sunday 4 December 2016

Venue: Worksop Priory

Worksop Priory Church’s annual Christmas Tree Festival, including for the first time an exhibition on the Separatists and Mayflower Pilgrims.




2016 Programme

Dates: Friday 18 November – Sunday 27 November 2016

Venue: Various venues in and around Retford, Nottinghamshire

Hosted by: Bassetlaw District Council & Bassetlaw Christian Heritage

Art Exhibition & Talk

Dates: Saturday 19 November, 10am-4pm; Sunday 20 November, 12-4pm

Venue: All Saints’ Church, Babworth

Featuring arts and crafts inspired by the stories of the Mayflower Pilgrims, Separatists and Puritans. Open to all artists – works will be accepted on the afternoon of Friday 18 November at Babworth Church from 12pm-4pm. Exhibitors wishing to book space please contact 01777 703996 or

Adrian Gray, local author and historian, is giving a talk at 11am, Saturday 19 November, at the Church on “How Nottinghamshire Changed the World”.

Heritage Exhibition: ‘Rebels and Religion’

Dates: Tuesday 22 November – Friday 25 November, 10am-4pm (except Thursday: 10am-1pm)

Venue: Ballroom, Retford Town Hall

Featuring stories about life in our area 400 years ago and why some people – the Separatists – decided they had to escape to Holland, and later became Pilgrims on the Mayflower. Others made the choice to stay.

Free entry, complimentary refreshments will be served.

Bassetlaw Christian Heritage are very grateful for the ongoing support of Bassetlaw District Council, which has made this event possible.

Lunctime Heritage Talks

Dates: Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd and Friday 25th November – 12.30pm each day

Venue: Ballroom, Retford Town Hall

A series of talks on the Mayflower Pilgrims and subjects related to their times and stories.

Americana Evening at Spencer’s on The Square

Date: Tuesday 22 November, 6.30pm for 7.30pm

Venue: Spencer’s on The Square, Retford Market Square

An opportunity to celebrate the “special relationship”: enjoy a two-course meal accompanied by American classics of the 1950s and 1960s provided by Jessica Mary Brett and Max Bowker.

Tickets £25 from Spencer’s and The Hub.

Pilgrims Food

Dates: Thursday 24 November – Saturday 26 November

Venue: Opera Tea Rooms, off the Market Square, Retford

Authentic seventeenth century cuisine, in the style that the Mayflower Pilgrims would have known, will be added to the Opera Tea Rooms’ menu, including Pilgrim Specials like Hodgepot.

Candle-lighting Services – Thanksgiving Day

Date: Thursday 24 November

Venues:the Pilgrim Churches:

  • Gainsborough United Reformed Church, 9.15am
  • Sturton-le-Steeple Church, 10am
  • Austerfield Church, 11am
  • Scrooby Church, 12pm
  • Babworth Church, 4pm.

A warm welcome is extended to everyone, of all faiths and none.

Civic Service

Date: Thursday 24 November, 6pm

Venue: St Swithun’s Church, Retford

Our Illuminate service is inspired by this year’s heritage theme, ‘Rebels and Religion’, and a quote from leading Pilgrim William Bradford, who wrote that ‘as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled has shone unto many’.

This event has been made possible with the support of Bassetlaw District Council and St Swithun’s Church.

If you want to get involved in this year’s Illuminate or find out more, please get in touch by contacting us at


Date: Sunday 30 October, 7.30am

Venue: The Well, Retford

The Well hosted BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship, led by Baroness Berridge and Rev. Brewster, reflecting on the life and writings of Thomas Helwys on religious tolerance. Find out more at: A Declaration of Freedom.


Date: Saturday 10 September, 10am-4pm

Venues: Exhibitions on Mayflower Pilgrims heritage were held at:

  • All Saints’ Church, Babworth: Clifton 400 – 400 years since the death of Richard Clifton, preacher at Babworth
  • St Swithun’s Church, Retford: Turvin & Retford – the one who stayed behind…
  • United Reformed Church, Gainsborough: Robinson & Smyth – inspiring the Pilgrims

These exhibitions were sponsored by Bassetlaw District Council.

Talk on Why the Pilgrims matter to us at Babworth Church, 1pm.


Date: Saturday 28 May – Monday 30 May 2016

Venue: All Saints’ Church, Babworth, near Retford

BCH contributed to events during the Retford Arts Festival weekend, including a talk on Clifton and the Mayflower Pilgrims.


Date: Saturday 12th March 2016, 10.30am – 12.00pm

Venue: The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD

A special event to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the death of THOMAS HELWYS, Founder of the Baptist denomination, Pioneer of Religious Liberty for All.

Keynote speeches by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and Rev Tony Peck on the life of Thomas Helwys and its importance today, plus a short film about Thomas Helwys.

The talks took place from 10.30am to 12.00 noon, followed by a buffet lunch and optional tour of local churches relevant to the Helwys story.

Free event – everyone welcome.

Thomas Helwys was from a North Nottinghamshire family and was born at Askham, near Retford. He became a friend of the puritan and separatist, John Smyth, and helped finance the escape of the Pilgrim Separatists to the Netherlands in 1608. There, Smyth and Helwys became Baptists.

Thomas Helwys is of global significance because:

  • Helwys was the first Englishman to explicitly state that people of any religion – Christian, Jew or Muslim – should be free to exercise their faith without government interference;
  • He founded the English-speaking Baptist denomination – the largest single Christian group in the USA and with nearly 50 million Baptists worldwide;
  • In an age dominated by strict Calvinists, he preached that God’s love was available for all.

BCH are very grateful to Bassetlaw District Council for their support for this event.


Date: Saturday 5 March 2016, 10am-2pm

Venue: Ranskill Church

BCH hosted a stall at Vocations Day in the church at Ranskill.


Date: Saturday 13 – Sunday 14 February 2016, 10am-4pm

Venue: All Saints’ Church, Babworth

Part of the Bassetlaw District Council/Bassetlaw Christian Heritage Mayflower Pilgrims’ Illuminate exhibition on show at Babworth during their snowdrop weekend.


The Illuminate events launched Bassetlaw’s countdown to the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020, and beginning to tell the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and how the area is connected to the story.


Date: Saturday 28 November 2015, 10am-4pm

Venue: The Crossing, Worksop

Exhibition exploring the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and Bassetlaw’s Christian heritage.


Date: Thursday 26 November 2015, 10am-4pm

Venue: Retford Town Hall

Illuminate 400: Retford 2015‘, a full day of free events, including:

  • A pop-up exhibition on America’s Thanksgiving Day, telling the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and Bassetlaw’s wider Christian heritage;
  • Workshops with schools, with lantern-making and woodcut printing;
  • Performances by TaleGate Theatre of their new play Chronicles of the Mayflower Pilgrims;
  • Talk by local historian Adrian Gray on Why did it happen here? 


Date: Thursday 26 November 2015, 7pm

Venue: St. Swithun’s Church, Retford

A civic service to commemorate the five year countdown to the Mayflower 400 anniversary in 2015, with an address by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and newly commissioned performances by drama students from the Post-16 Centre in Retford, followed by a reception hosted by Bassetlaw District Council in Retford Town Hall.