I had no great expectations of finding any trace of my ancestors ever having been here. Nearly 400 years had passed! Nevertheless, the harbour itself would be largely unchanged and very evocative of their last view of their homeland.
We were surprised, however, to discover a surprising number of references to the Mayflower such as this plaque listing the passengers, including my Mayflower ancestors.
A conspicuous tourist area supposedly marks the steps that the Pilgrims would have descended to get aboard the Mayflower, but it is highly unlikely that these steps were actually used by any of my ancestors to get aboard. It is thought that the actual boarding area was a few blocks away.
There is also a Mayflower Museum associated with the Visitors' Centre, but we were short of time and had been advised by the locals that it wasn't a particularly good museum for documenting actual Mayflower history. We chose instead to spend our time taking in the other things that Plymouth had to offer. While enjoying a delicious dinner at The Barbican Kitchen, we discovered that it was situated in the Plymouth Gin distillery.
We also learned that this building is thought to have been where the Pilgrim fathers spent their last night in England. They would have been sheltered under this very ceiling. (No, it was not a gin distillery lounge at that time!)
Over the centuries, many other historic events occurred in Plymouth. Commemorative stones are scattered throughout the walls and sidewalks of the Royal Citadel and the Barbican areas.
This is a charming town with many quaint cobbled streets that have probably been here for hundreds of years. I kept asking myself: Did my ancestors walk here?
The Hoe is a flat area of grassland and commemorative monuments situated just above the harbour. There are stunning panoramic views across Plymouth Sound. Smeaton's Tower lighthouse is a distinct landmark.
Another genealogical bonus was awaiting us. While on The Hoe, we were reminded that Plymouth was the home town of Sir Francis Drake and that he supposedly played bowls here before sailing off to defeat the Spanish Armada. Aha! We had an ancestor, John Marchant, who sailed with Sir Francis. My imagination took flight with images of men like Captain John and Sir Francis strutting around the streets of Plymouth prior to setting off in their grand sailing vessels from this very harbour.
|Armada Memorial, Plymouth|