The village of Austerfield, which was the home of William Bradford, the Governor of Plimoth Colony from 1621 to 1656, is situated immediately after leaving Bawty to the north east. The market town of Bawtry in South Yorkshire is just one mile north of Scrooby.

 

St. Helena's Church, Austerfield was built in 1080. By the end of the 19th century, the north aisle had fallen down and the nave arches on that side were bricked up. With generous donations from the General Society of Mayflower Descendents in the United States, the aisle was reconstructed, using a stone doorway and window tracery that had survived.

The chapel is seen here from the east in the evening with a light shining through the stained glass of the gothic chancel window.

Above the door in the church's south porch is a lively dragon carved about nine hundred years ago. The surrounding arches are characteristic of architectural decoration from the end of the 11th century, when the Norman Conquest of 1066 resulted in architectural innovation .

William Bradford was baptised at the font in St. Helena's church on the 19th of March 1589/ 90.


The church was restored in 1897. A carving of a so-called Sheila-na-gig was uncovered when layers of plaster were removed from the capitals on the nave pillars. The significance of such carvings of naked women is debated.; they may be fertility symbols or warnings against lust.

The Norman round arch gives access to the gothic chancel in the little chapel. The communion rail was a liturgical innovation required by Archbishop William Laud, on whose orders Pilgrim Edward Winslow was imprisoned in 1634.

St. Helena's Church has several excellent windows by one of England's greatest stained glass artists, Charles Earner Kempe (1837-1907). Babworth Church is also proud of its Kempe window.

There is also a Pilgrim memorial stained glass window




Traditionally associated with the Bradford family, the substantial Austerfield manor house may have belonged to William Bradford's grandfather, and his uncles Robert and Thomas, wealthy farmers who helped raise the orphaned boy. It was originally half-timbered. Structural beams survive, but the daub-and-wattle walls have been replaced with brick. The Manor house as it stands today has been substantially renovatedover the years.

As drawn by Charles Whymper in 1890

As lived in about 1920

As bought by Colonel Bracewell in 1949 with 5 acres of land when it was considered uninhabitable

As improved and lived in about 1960

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© Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association - Photographs courtesy of Dr. Jeremy Bangs copyright reserved