[7] From a corbel in the nave arches, a fifteenth-century face looks down on the shifting patterns of history.

[11, 12] Scrooby church has new pews since Pilgrim times, but some of the carved decorations survive from the benches where Pilgrims listened until they gave up on parishes and the secure familiarity of ancient custom to flee into exile. A century ago, one of the ancient pews, with its rough carving of grapevines, was donated by the church to Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

[8] Outside Babworth’s church one can still follow the path William Bradford took to get here from his home in Austerfield

 Touring Pilgrim Country - Mayflower Trail Map 

Among England’s most evocative landscapes, the valleys of the Idle and Trent rivers surely speak to the imagination with the voice of history. Here, four hundred years ago, a handful of people claimed the right to remain true to their consciences in matters of religious belief – daring to refuse to conform to government demands for uniformity. On this website I’d like to take you with me on a tour I made in 2006 of Pilgrim sites in northern Nottinghamshire, western Lincolnshire, and southern Yorkshire, the region where the Pilgrim movement began.
                                                                                        Dr Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, Director Leiden American Pilgrim Museum

                                                                                                                                                                            (Text and photos copyright 2006

  Dr Bang's guide/driver was Sue Allan of Mayflower Pilgrim Tours.

9] Just a few miles north of Babworth on the ancient highway called The Great North Road is Scrooby’s medieval church of St. Wilfrid. William Brewster and his family attended this church and resided in Scrooby Manor, where William was the area agent of the Archibishop of York (whose palace it was). He had been baptized in this church in August, 1593. He was punished for absenting himself when he came to disagree with Anglican services. William’s brother James was the Anglican vicar at Sutton-cum-Lound, nearby, with responsibility for the church at Scrooby.

[10] Scrooby church yard, in the centre of the village, has a rural calm that makes imagining the persecution of people who stopped attending services here hard to imagine.

[6] A church mouse crawls along the communion rail at Babworth – the well-known symbol of Yorkshire craftsman Robert Thompson. Look around, there may be more!

[4, 5] The east window contains neo-Gothic stained glass that looks like the work of John Hardiman, who worked from patterns by the architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, a leader in the Gothic revival. Under the tower at the opposite end of the church is a window (1895) by Charles Eamer Kempe.

​[3] Dating mostly from the fifteenth century, Babworth Church contains several eighteenth-century memorials, besides nineteenth-century stained glass. The double arches at the beginning of the chancel imply that there may still have been a choir screen here in Clifton’s time, separating the priest from the people. Clifton came to believe in a non-hierarchical congregational structure. In the north aisle, there’s a painting of parishioners on their way to church, painted by a resident with time on his hands at a nearby prison.

[14] The village pound for stray animals stood in the north part of the church yard, together with the stocks. The stocks were sold to American hunters of Pilgrim souvenirs more than a hundred years ago.

​[2] Graves surround the churches, where in early times local notables were buried under the floor inside the churches. Bones were discovered in a vault under the north aisle at Babworth in 1951. The chalice that Richard Clifton used for communion services was hidden among the bones, probably to save it from being melted down at the time of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century.




[1] My tour started in Babworth’s All Saints Church. Since 1586 Richard Clifton’s sermons here had stirred the community. Young William Bradford, from Austerfield, walked several miles on Sundays to hear Clifton preach. In 1605, Clifton was dismissed for refusing to submit to demands that clergy observe strict conformity with the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and also that ministers wear the new white over-robe called a surplice. Such ritualism was considered a remnant of Catholic superstition by those who thought it necessary to “purify” the Anglican church. (‘Popish trash’ was Bradford’s dismissive phrase.) Clifton came from a family that had been locally prominent since the eleventh century. Cliftons were lords of the manors of Wilford and Clifton, and rectors of Clifton at various times up to the sixteenth century. One had even been sheriff of Nottingham and Derby, although not in the time of Robin Hood. Richard Clifton enjoyed local support when he defied the orders of bishop and king. With the help of William Brewster, who lived in Scrooby Manor, Clifton became the pastor of a secret, break-away congregation. But his former parishioners did not all join him. Here and at Scrooby, those who had separated from the official church found themselves ‘hunted and persecuted on every side’.