ILLUMINATE – PILGRIMS FESTIVAL gets better and better

 

Beat that? They did! ILLUMINATE Pilgrims Festival gets better every year! 2016 events exceed the success of 2015 on the way to the 400th Anniversary in 2020.

From an inspiring art exhibition and fascinating talk at Babworth church to the closing presentation at Retford Town Hall… The week was filled to the brim with the stories and celebrations of the region and heritage – our ‘Mayflower Roots’.

The United States of America traces its origins to the people aboard the Mayflower and recognises the Pilgrims as its forebears.  Bradford and Brewster, came from Austerfield and Scrooby, with important influencers coming from Babworth – Clifton, and Robinson and Smyth came from Sturton-le-Steeple.  Because of this we have a ‘special relationship’ with the U.S. and it was celebrated in style at Spencer’s on the Square with an ‘Americana Eveningon Tuesday 22nd November.  Over 60 local people gathered for a glittering evening with a sumptuous early Thanksgiving dinner. Jessica Mary Brett and Max Bowker provided uplifting, toe-tapping entertainment – singing American classics from the 50s and 60s.

More than 150 people flocked to the picturesque Babworth Parish Church over the weekend of 19th/20th November to see the inaugural ‘Pilgrims Festival Art Exhibition’, and to listen to the knowledgeable Adrian Gray speak about “How Nottinghamshire Changed the World”. Thirty-nine diverse exhibits were on show – all the work of local artists who had their own individual interpretations of the Pilgrims’ story.  An exhibition which illustrated the Separatist and Mayflower Pilgrims story ran throughout the week in Retford Town Hall and was seen by over 300 visitors.

Heritage talks were given by Malcolm Dolby, who gave a fascinating talk on the life and times of William Bradford; Sue Allan provided a perceptive view of what life was like at the time of the Separatists; and Natasha Scullion delivered an absorbing look at St Martin’s, Bilborough, Hidden Treasures: The Building and its People’.

Last year, three primary schools (about 100 children) accessed the Pilgrims Story in an entertaining and educational way. This year, eight primary schools, plus local Cubs Brownies and Rainbows were engaged in Pilgrim-themed workshops and enjoyed Talegate Theatre, with their ‘Chronicles of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ – an uproariously funny look at the pioneering adventure, in which over 400 local schoolchildren participated. On Thursday 24th, Carr Hill Primary School gave an outstanding performance of a special play written by one of their governors, Barry Upton. This was attended by around 80 schoolchildren from Carr Hill, plus teachers and parents, and grandparents.

On Thursday 24th there were candle-lighting services during the day at the ‘Pilgrims Churches’ in Austerfield, Scrooby, Babworth, Sturton-le-Steeple, and Gainsborough (United Reformed Church). The day started at Gainsborough United Reformed Church with a service led by the Minister, Rev Dr Gillian Poucher, including clergy members from the local Anglican (Canon Mike Cooney) and Methodist (Rev Louise Carr) churches and members of the congregation. Then there was a service at St Peter & St Paul’s in Sturton-le-Steeple led by Rev Mark Cantrill and Barbara Bartle, Churchwarden, who dressed up for the part in outfits from the time of the Pilgrims. They were joined by pupils from nearby Sturton Primary School, who joined in question and answer sessions and began to understand the part that the village has played, through Robinson and Smyth, in the development of the beliefs of the modern Western World. Then there was a simple service at St Helena’s Church in Austerfield, where William Bradford was baptized, led by Rev Jonathan Strickland, assisted by Churchwarden, Sue Goodall. This was followed by a service at St Wilfrid’s Scrooby, led by Rev Julia Jesson, Area Dean, which was attended by Ed Marshall, Chair of the Parish Council, and members of the congregations of Scrooby, Ranskill and Blyth. At All Saints’ church in Babworth, in the afternoon, the service was led by Canon Tony Walker, Team Rector of Retford, and was attended by Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who had arrived specially from London for the evening, Rev Julia Jesson, Area Dean, and members of the Babworth and Ranby congregations.

St Swithun’s Parish Church in Retford welcomed all to a Civic Service on Thursday 24th November.  Rev Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Chaplain to the Queen, Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey and Priest in Charge of St Mary-at-Hill near Monument, gave the address and spoke powerfully and movingly about tolerance and caring.  Retford Post 16 Centre drama students performed an insightful interpretation of ‘Separatists, Rebels and Religion’ written and dramatised by Anna Scott and Neil Brownhill.  Worksop College Choir, VOX, and the North Wheatley Choir ‘Songbirds’ sang inspirational songs as part of the service, which told the story of the Pilgrims’ decision to leave England and seek a new life overseas.

The Civic Service was attended by Judge John Machin, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire; John Mann, MP; Cllr Jim Anderson, Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council; Cllr Garry Clarkson, Mayor of Retford; Ven David Picken, Archdeacon of Newark; Cllr Madelaine Richardson, Deputy Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council; Cllr George Derx, Deputy Mayor of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council; Cllr Helen Richards, Deputy Mayor of Retford and Neil Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Bassetlaw District Council. Councillors from Bassetlaw, and West Lindsey, District Councils and local Parish Councils were also welcome guests.

The service began with candles being brought from churches at Austerfield, Scrooby, Babworth, Sturton-le-Steeple and Gainsborough (URC) to provide one light as remembered in William Bradford’s words ‘as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.’    All those who took part in the Civic Service gathered in St Swithun’s churchyard to create a ‘400’ image again using lights to illuminate the shape in the darkness.  This is part of the national Mayflower 400 campaign led by Plymouth in Devon, England where towns with a connection to the Pilgrims Story are encouraged to hold an event based on light referring to the Bradford quote. Plymouth created the first ‘400’ in 2014, and Retford has participated in 2015 and 2016.

A Civic Reception was held in the Town Hall where Anna Scott, Heritage Consultant, introduced a sand art film showing the Pilgrims Story; Cllr Jim Anderson, Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council, reflected on the success of the week congratulating the organisers on having improved on the excellent 2015 events. This was followed by John Mann MP, who gave an inspiring speech on his commitment to the Pilgrims Story and its beneficial relevance to Bassetlaw. He also revealed that he had invited Richard Gere and Bruce Springsteen to visit Bassetlaw’s commemorations – it remains to be seen whether they will attend. The speeches were completed by Rick Brand, Chair, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage, who emphasized the focus on local engagement with the Pilgrims Story to ensure that the area in and around Bassetlaw connected with the Pilgrims benefitted beyond 2020.

This amazing week of celebrations culminated on Sunday 27th with the Christmas Market and Light Switch-on and an enchanting display of almost 100 beautifully decorated Christmas trees in St Swithun’s church (until 3rd December), and a Star Festival at Grove St Methodist Chapel.

Commemorating Clifton’s 400th – BCH touring exhibition and talks in May

Bassetlaw Christian Heritage is involved in a series of events this coming May to commemorate 400 years since the death of Richard Clifton – leading Separatist and preacher who inspired the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Events are taking place in Austerfield, Gainsborough, Babworth and Retford.

BCH are pleased to be taking part in the Doncaster Heritage Festival, the West Lindsey Churches Festival and the Retford Arts Festival to stage an exhibition on Clifton and the Pilgrims and offer talks on the history by Adrian Gray.

May 20th 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Clifton, who died in Holland before the Pilgrims left for America via Southampton, Dartmouth and Plymouth.

What’s on and when?

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th May 2016 11am-4pm St Helena’s Church, Austerfield

  • Open Church Weekend as part of the Doncaster Heritage Festival, including a Bassetlaw Christian Heritage exhibition on Richard Clifton and the Separatists, including William Bradford and William Brewster.
  • Refreshments will be provided.
  • Talk by author and local historian Adrian Gray on Sunday 8 May 8 at 2pm, providing an engaging insight into the Bradford, Brewster and Clifton story with an overview of the times that they lived in and their importance to us today.
  • Adrian’s new book From Here We Changed the World will be available, which provides an outline of the story and a detailed commentary on fascinating insights into some of the key places in the region. It is a story of martyrdom, sacrifice and unbelievable bravery; of shipwreck, cannibalism and yet extraordinary service to others.
  • Read a short history of Austerfield church below.
Saturday 14th May 2016 Pilgrims & Prophets Clifton Tour
  • Tour of churches with connections to Richard Clifton and the Pilgrim Story, with a heritage commentary, (itinerary subject to confirmation) starting at The Crossing in Worksop going on to The Well in Retford then Marnham, Fledborough, Babworth, Scrooby, and Everton before returning to The Well and The Crossing.
  • Departures from from The Crossing in Worksop and The Well in Retford.
  • Led by Adrian Gray and Rev. Geoffrey Clarke – for further information contact Adrian Gray (tel./text 07470 366689), or The Crossing in Worksop, or The Well in Retford.
 Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th May 2016 United Reformed Church, Gainsborough
  • Open Church Weekend with organ recitals as part of the West Lindsey Churches Festival – including Bassetlaw Christian Heritage exhibition on Richard Clifton and the Separatists.
Saturday 28th, Sunday 29th & Monday 30th May 2016 10am-4pm All Saint’s Parish Church, Babworth
  • Open Church Weekend as part of the Retford Arts Festival;
  • Exhibition of paintings by local artist Gerry Fruin;
  • Bassetlaw Christian Heritage exhibition on Richard Clifton and the Separatists.
  • Refreshments will be provided and car parking is available.
Saturday 28th May 2016 11am St Swithun’s Parish Church, Retford
  • Talk by author and local historian, Adrian Gray on ‘Retford’s Christian Heritage’ as part of the Retford Arts Festival.

Spotlight on Austerfield

The Clifton commemorations begin at historic St Helena’s Church at Austerfield, now over one thousand years old. The structure of the building alone is worth a visit, but when you consider the people who have lived and worked here, and the events they have shaped, influencing the lives of millions across the world – you will wonder why you haven’t visited before.

St Helena’s Church was built in 1080 by John de Builli, using stone from the Roche Abbey quarries. Over the centuries the church has seen new sections built and renovations completed to make it the church you see today.

The tympanum over the south doorway depicts a serpent-like dragon. An article published in 1954 suggests it is 8th century and relates its symbolic meaning to the calculation of the incidence of Easter Day.

In 702AD Austerfield was the location of a Synod, where a dispute between the King of Northumbria and Wilfrid, Bishop of Ripon was resolved. The Synod also discussed and agreed was the way that Easter is calculated.

The church has several windows by one of England’s greatest stained glass artists, Charles Earner Kempe.

In the nave is a Sheila-na-gig of which there are only 16 recorded in England! This is a quasi-erotic stone carving of a female figure sometimes found in Norman churches. This carving had been blocked into a wall in the 14th century, and was only rediscovered in 1898 during restoration work.

In 1897 the north aisle was built in memory of William Bradford.

Austerfield is perhaps best known by its connections with the Mayflower Pilgrims. William Bradford was born in Austerfield and was brought to be baptised on 19th March 1589.

In front of you, when you enter the church, is the stone baptismal font where Bradford was baptized and a beautiful stained glass window on the north side of the church commemorates the 400th anniversary of this event.

William Bradford went on to become the second Governor of Plimoth Colony in America and was the second signer of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor.

Bradford was just 18 when he left for Holland with the Scrooby Group of Separatists in 1608, and only 30 when he arrived in America. As a young man he had often been unwell which led him to read and develop an interest in religious issues.

He became a close friend of William Brewster, who was Master of the Post at Scrooby, which is where the Scrooby Group met after Richard Clifton was forced out of Babworth.

Clifton was an important preacher and Bradford and Brewster regularly walked to Babworth to hear his sermons, even though it was illegal at the time.

[As featured on Heritage Inspired]

 

 

 

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.