Local artist commemorates the Pilgrim Fathers in a new tapestry

Helen Staples normally embroiders blankets for her family and friends. Photo: Beth Pritchard.

Artists in Boston and Fishtoft are creating artwork for the anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers’ journey to the New World.

Fishtoft, a village on the outskirts of Boston, played a crucial role in the early plans to travel to America. The Pilgrim Fathers first assembled at Scotia Creek, one mile south of Fishtoft village centre, which is now the site of the Pilgrim Fathers Memorial.

Next year is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower crossing to the New World. Fishtoft’s 400 Committee are working with local artists to commemorate the occasion. A needlework wall hanging designed by Fishtoft school children will be crafted by committee member, Helen Staples.

The tapestry Helen creates will be gifted to the borough of Boston in the hope it will be hung in the Guildhall, where the Pilgrims were imprisoned. Ms Staples said: “As far as we’re concerned here in Fishtoft, we played quite a big role. 400 years ago it must have been massive news then for people and so I want to reawaken people’s knowledge of what really happened all those years ago”.

Boston and South Holland Wood Carvers will also be marking the event with a new plaque for the Pilgrim Fathers Memorial. The group of amature carvers have been making art for the town for three years now and have recently been working on a large structure commemorating fishermen that have died in Boston.

The wood carvers have previously made a monument for fishermen. Photo: Beth Pritchard.

Peter Henson, an ex-police officer who joined the group in his retirement, will be working on the anniversary plaque. Whilst plans are only in the early stages, it is thought that the oak plaque will be around three-foot by two-foot and four inches thick and installed along the riverbank.




Mr Henson said: “What we’re thinking of doing is something that’s on the riverbank and showing of the period. The boat going out of Boston with wildlife indigenous to the area and maybe with the Stump in the background”.

The Pilgrim Fathers were a group of Puritans from Nottingham and Lincolnshire who believed their faith was incompatible with the Church of England. In 1607, they decided to travel from Boston to the Netherlands for religious freedom. They failed to get the necessary passports and were arrested.

A year later, they successfully emigrated and in 1617 they heard about free land in the new English colony of Virginia, and decided to leave for the New World. In September 1620, they hired the Mayflower and sailed to America. Thomas Dudley, having moved from England to the Shawmut peninsula in Massachusetts, decided to rename it Boston.

Events are being held country-wide to commemorate the anniversary, from Plymouth Pirate Weekend in May to telling An Untold Story of the two Bostons conference at Blackfriars in Boston in September. Celebrations will stretch to Boston, Massachusetts throughout 2020, too. This will include an embarkation festival in September and a week of ceremonies around Thanksgiving. A replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims will sail to Boston in the spring and the Provincetown in autumn.