To be a Pilgrim: Essex marks its role in the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower

  • Watch a report from ITV Anglia's Charlie Frost looking at Harwich's role in the Mayflower story

Today marks exactly 400 years since the Mayflower left Plymouth for North America - and the town of Harwich played a major part in the historic voyage.

Christopher Jones, was the ship's captain who led the voyage to the new world - he was born and raised in Harwich where you can still visit his former home. 

You can still see the home of Christopher Jones in Harwich Credit: ITV News

The Pilgrims were a small group of religious separatists who found themselves persecuted for breaking from the Church of England.

Many fled to Holland in the 1600s, but eventually some were keen to leave Europe entirely, and set up a new community on a new continent to practice their faith. 

  • Watch Nick Smith's report on the anniversary of the Mayflower sailing

Isabelle Richards: They were fleeing persecution Credit: ITV News

The voyage also included people who wanted to try and find their fortune in trade across the Atlantic. 

In the late summer of 1620 two ships - the Mayflower and the Speedwell - left Rotherhithe Docks in London bound for America... but only got as far as Plymouth before the Speedwell encountered problems and was declared unfit for the crossing.

The Mayflower

While Covid has limited this year's commemorations - those at Mayflower 400 have designed a host of trails across the country - including one in Harwich - where people can walk in the footsteps of the Pilgrims.