We left Plymouth today having spent a couple of nights after leaving Boston. The weather has not been great. We had some sun and breaks in the light rain on the day we arrived that allowed us to get around and see the main sites. Plymouth is viewed as the heartland of America, where it all began. This is notwithstanding that there had been British colonies in North America for a good number of years before, let alone the native Indian presence. There is a lot of feel good fuzzy stuff in Plymouth that endeavours to capture this patriotism. Flags everywhere, museums, monuments. A lot of old architecture is well maintained. It strikes one as a justifiably proud little town. No doubt there are some dark stories as well! Now what about those sites we had a look at.
The Mayflower replica was built in England in 1955/56. It was sailed across the Atlantic to Plymouth in 1957, did a few short cruises around the north-east coast and then retired as a museum ship at the Plymouth docks. The replica is starting to get a bit ragged it seems as there is a fundraising campaign to get $2m to help keep it afloat at the dock side, let alone sail it again. The original Mayflower and a number of other ships had brought the Pilgrims from the Netherlands in the early 1620s to Plymouth to found a colony based around Puritan beliefs. The Puritans had escaped to the Netherlands from persecution in England, following their split from the early Anglican church. Asylum seekers if you like! The old grave yard where a good number of them are buried was also very interesting, bodies going back to the early/mid 1600s residing here. Military flags sit beside those who fought in the American War of Independence and the Civil War.
The Plymouth Rock is also prominent, covered over in a Portico structure to protect it from the elements. Although in a high tide the water may well cover it. This is the rock that the Mayflower was supposed, thought to have tied up to. This is despite the fact that the Plymouth harbour is very shallow and the ship is documented to have stayed offshore a reasonable distance. Maybe it was the shore boats that tied up to it? Not sure if anyone knows. But hey it’s a tradition and there is nothing really wrong with that. There is also some evidence that it was because 1620 has been carved into it. Then again maybe that was done later. Who wants to spoil a good story. What we do know is that the Pilgrims came ashore near here.
Yesterday was rain and wind and it got quite cold in the evening. So it was indoors at the Pilgrim Hall Museum. This was quite impressive and is the oldest museum in the USA. It documents the whole Pilgrim thing from its origins in the UK and the Netherlands, through the Mayflower’s sailing to Plymouth, the early struggles to establish the settlement, the relationship with the local Indian population and the eventual amalgamation of the colony with the rest of Massachusetts. Of the 100 odd Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower about 50 had died within the first year,it was by no means an easy start.
On a more happy note the food has been pretty good. Some clam chowder, crab cakes, lobster pasta, fish and chips, seafood stews have been enjoyed by all. Lobster is pretty cheap over here compared to Australia. $US20 thereabouts seems to get a good feed in most places. We also managed to get a quick visit into the Mayflower craft brewery to taste some product, most impressed with the aged Porter.
Set off now for New Haven along the coast back towards New York, via a trip out to Provincetown on the end of Cape Cod.