Manuscripts and Special Collections

Beyond the Mayflower

 Image for 'Beyond the Mayflower' exhibition


In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower sailed across the Atlantic. Amongst the passengers were a group of religious separatists, known as the ‘Pilgrims’, many of whom came from Nottinghamshire.

The Beyond the Mayflower exhibition will open in our exhibition gallery in the Lakeside Arts building on University Park on 23 September and remain open until 16 January 2022. Visitor information is on the Lakeside Arts website

In this online version of the exhibition you can read a selection of the exhibition boards, listen to a podcast with sculptor Rachel Carter, read about the experiences of the Pilgrim settlers, and learn more about the records of the Archdeaconry of Nottingham. 

Beyond the Mayflower is curated by Manuscripts and Special Collections and Professor Ross Wilson, Director of Liberal Arts at the University of Nottingham, with contributions by Dr Caleb Bailey and Rachel Carter.


Book tickets for lunchtime talks and events

Pilgrim Woman - Front View - by Rachel Carter 

'Pilgrim Woman' by Rachel Carter


Exhibition boards

The Pilgrims from Nottinghamshire were part of a history that is more than the Mayflower. By understanding the wider history of religious dissent, we can explore issues of equality and freedom today.

Image for 'Beyond the Mayflower' exhibition 

Six exhibition boards will be on display in the Gallery, detailing aspects of religious history and tolerance.

For those who want to read ahead three of the boards can be viewed online.


Archdeaconry Resources

The 'Pilgrim Father' William Brewster of Scrooby, and Thomas Helwys of Broxtowe, founder of the Baptist Church, found themselves in trouble for their failure to comply with the established Church. The original Presentment Bills made by the churchwardens of their parishes, naming them as dissenters, have survived in the Archive of the Archdeaconry of Nottingham.

The archive is one of the most extensive manuscript collections held at the University of Nottingham. It is a major research resource for ecclesiastical court history, and touches on many issues of local church estates and property, parish and community concerns, family structure and individual lives. Genealogists make use of the series of marriage bonds dated 1565-1884.

More information about the Archdeaconry archive is available to view on our website. 

Archdeaconry Resources web pages

Churchwarden presentment bill naming Thomas Helwys ('Elvishe'), Bilborough parish, 1607 (AN/PB 293/7/24)Churchwarden presentment bill naming Thomas Helwys ('Elvishe'), Bilborough parish, 1607 (AN/PB 293/7/24)


Turn the Pages

Of Plimoth Plantation

William Bradford's handwritten account of the Pilgrim Fathers' journey and settlement of Plymouth Colony is held at the State Library of Massachusetts and has been made available online.

University of Nottingham Library's own copy of a facsimile volume published in 1896 (Special Collection Over.X F68.B7) is currently displayed in the exhibition in the Weston Gallery.

Turn the pages: Of Plimoth Plantation

Facsimile copy of William Bradford's 'On Plimoth Plantation' (Special Collection Over.X F68.B7)Facsimile copy of William Bradford's 'On Plimoth Plantation' (Special Collection Over.X F68.B7)


Tours, films and talks

Spirit of Mayflower podcast by Rachel Carter

Rachel’s podcast charts her journey to create a series of Pilgrim Woman Sculptures for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing and looks at the history, inspiration and the cultures of four nations.

Season 1, Episode 15 features special guest Kathryn Summerwill from Nottingham University Manuscripts and Special Collections, discussing the 'Beyond The Mayflower’ exhibition.

Listen to the podcast




Watch our series of short films introducing items from our collections.

Focus on: William Brewster, Pilgrim Father

Focus on: Passengers on the Mayflower



From our blog

'Beyond the Mayflower' focuses on Protestant dissenting communities, but Roman Catholics were also persecuted in the 17th and 18th centuries

Go to the blog, 'Anne Vaux, recusant'


Get the latest updates

Follow Manuscripts and Special Collections Exhibitions on twitter @mssLakeside to keep up to date with the latest exhibition news.


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651