Sherwood Oak planted to commemorate Nottinghamshire’s Pilgrims at Babworth church

Recent news from our friends at Sherwood Forest Trust announcing a commemorative tree planting at Babworth church – 17th March 2021:

400 years ago, the Mayflower Pilgrims left England and set out for America.

A number of the most influential and important Pilgrims came from North Nottinghamshire and to mark its seminal place in the Mayflower story, the Sherwood Forest Trust has planted a commemorative oak at Babworth Church  –  where William Brewster and Reverend Richard Clifton delivered their sermons.

Guests at the Mayflower 400 commemorative oak tree planting at Babworth church

Dr Patrick Candler of the Sherwood Forest Trust explains: “We wanted to commemorate the role of Nottinghamshire in the Mayflower story and what better way than to use the most noted of our county’s natural resources. The oak is the  most emblematic English tree, famed for its beauty, strength and longevity.  And the Pilgrim story shows how from ‘little acorns’ as they say, great things can grow. 

The Trust is very grateful for the kind permission of the Church and local landowner, Sir Jack Whitaker, to plant this specimen oak, which was provided by Green Mile Trees of Babworth.

Peter Swinscoe, Babworth Church Warden said:” Babworth Church has an important part to play in the development of the thinking of the Pilgrims who were preached to by the Reverend Richard Clifton in the years before the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620. This superb tree will still be growing in our churchyard one hundred years from now!”

Peter Swinscoe and Patrick Candler planting the commemorative oak tree near All Saints’ Church, Babworth

The ceremony included a selection of Brewster’s sermons read by actor Charles Cromwell and the oak tree was blessed by the Reverend Richard Hanford.

The Trust appreciates the financial support given by Bassetlaw District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council to enable them to organise this project.

Oaks are a special tree in Nottinghamshire. Sherwood Forest and its mighty landmark, the 1200 year old ‘Major Oak’, have fascinated tourists since American writer Washington Irving hymned its glories in the 1830s.

It is well known that Plymouth, in south west England, was the embarkation point for the Mayflower – the merchant ship that in September 1620 set off with its 102 passengers to sail halfway across the known world. 

Less well known is that the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims actually began some 300 miles north in the counties of Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire and, especially Nottinghamshire. This is why we call this ‘Pilgrim Roots’ country.

A community history project in North Notts today, ‘Pilgrim Roots explores the Midlands’ origins of the Mayflower story, and the places and communities affected by it – from the attractive market town of Retford, which today hosts the Pilgrims Gallery museum, to the ‘People of the First Light’ – the native American Wampanoag people encountered by the Pilgrims, some 5000 of whom still reside in New England.

For further details on the Mayflower 400 Legacy Oaks Planting project, please contact Sherwood Forest Trust.

Sir Jack Whittaker planting the commemorative oak tree at Babworth church

Snowdrops at Babworth

Babworth ‘Pilgrims’ Church holds successful Snowdrops Weekend

Known as “the Church in the Woodland”, All Saints’ Parish Church in Babworth provided the ideal setting for nature to put on a truly magnificent display of snowdrops.

All Saints’ Parish Church, Babworth, with snowdrops
All Saints’ Parish Church, Babworth, with snowdrops

Around 600 people visited the church on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th February to walk the Snowdrop Trail and enjoy the homemade refreshments on sale in the church. The guests were also treated to a wide range of paintings by talented local artist, Gerry Fruin. Part of the successful ‘Illuminate 400 – Retford 2015’, Mayflower Pilgrims exhibition was on show, as well as original copies of the notebooks of Rev. Edmund Jessup. He was Rector of All Saints’ from 1950 to 1984, and also honorary chaplain to the forces and chaplain of Ranby Prison: he did much to revive the American connection with Babworth.  There were also many architectural wonders to see, including stained glass windows by Kempe, Eginton, and Wailes; and furniture by “Mousey” Thompson.

Interior of All Saints’ showing local artist Gerry Fruin and visitors on the weekend of 13/14 February 2016
Interior of All Saints’ showing local artist Gerry Fruin and visitors on the weekend of 13/14 February 2016

Originally a Norman church, All Saints’ is best known for its role in the Separatist Movement of the 17th century which resulted in the Mayflower Pilgrims’ historic journey to America. Richard Clifton, Rector of All Saints’ then, was the preacher that William Bradford, from Austerfield, and William Brewster, from Scrooby, travelled for miles along the Pilgrim Way to hear preach. Clifton was a central character in the Separatist Movement, although not travelling to America himself, he inspired Bradford and Brewster, who ultimately became the Governor and Senior Elder of Plymouth Colony respectively.

Gerry Fruin and Bassetlaw Christian Heritage will be returning to All Saints’ Babworth between 28th and 30th May as part of the church’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Clifton, and also as part of the Retford Arts Festival.