The Mayflower Steps
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
THE BARBICAN, PLYMOUTH
Site open all year
Visit the world famous Mayflower Steps, the spot close to the site on the Barbican from which it is believed the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for North America in 1620.
The Mayflower Steps are flanked by the British and American flags and mark the final English departure point of 102 passengers who set sail on the Mayflower in 1620.
The actual steps the pilgrims left from no longer exist. A granite block bearing the ship’s name marks the approximate site, while a tablet commemorating the voyage was erected alongside in 1891.
A heavily weathered, honey-coloured Doric portico was added in 1934. Taking a couple of steps through leads to a mini-balcony, built in 2000, which has views out towards the sea. Parts of the cobbled Grade II pier the memorials sit on date from the 17th century, but it was extensively rebuilt in the 1790s.
The best effort by local historians to place the actual site of the Mayflower finally casting off is roughly where a Victorian public house, the Admiral MacBride, now stands.
Nearby plaques chronicle other key events to occur near the site: the return in 1838 of four Tolpuddle Martyrs after exile in Australia; the departure in 1839 of the Tory, the pioneer ship that colonised New Zealand; and the arrival in 1919 of the American seaplane that made the first transatlantic flight, almost 300 years after the Pilgrims’ voyage.
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