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History of the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe, London

The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe is located on the banks of the River Thames, at the spot where the Mayflower ship left London in 1620. The Mayflower ship is significant in American colonial history, as it carried the English settlers, known as the Pilgrim Fathers, who set up the first permanent English colony in New England. This post is about the history of the Mayflower pub in Rotherhithe.

the mayflower pub rotherhithe history
The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe. Photograph by Olivia Herlihy

History of the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe

How Old is the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe?

The first pub to be built on the site of The Mayflower was known as The Shippe, and dated back to 1550. The Shippe was destroyed in a fire, and completely rebuilt in 1780. At this time the pub was renamed The Spread Eagle and Crown.

The Spread Eagle and Crown was not just a pub, but also a post office on the river Thames. It was one of the only pubs in London that sold both US and British postage stamps.

In the second world war the pub’s roof was damaged by German bombing. It was refurbished in 1957 when a new 16th century style interior was built, and the pub was renamed “The Mayflower.”

Sigh outside the Mayflower
Commemorative Plaque outside the Mayflower pub. Photograph by Olivia Herlihy

Why is the Mayflower Pub Famous?

The Mayflower pub is located at the original mooring point of the Pilgrim Father’s Mayflower ship that left Rotherhithe in July 1620 for America. The Mayflower ship holds a crucial place in American colonial history, as it transported the original Pilgrims from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The ship carried 102 passengers, including 37 separatists who had broken away from the Church of England. Today, many Americans can trace their ancestry back to these individuals who become known as the Pilgrim Fathers.

In the photograph below you can see the original mooring point of the Mayflower ship behind the pub. It is marked by a British and American flag.

Rotherhithe beach
Rotherhithe Beach. Photograph by Olivia Herlihy

What is the Story of the Mayflower Ship?

In the early 17th century, a group of English Separatists, known as the Pilgrims, sought religious freedom from the Church of England. They originally found refuge in the Holland, but as life became more difficult for them, they decided to start a new life in America.

The Pilgrims obtained permission from the English government and secured funding to make the journey. They acquired a ship called the Mayflower, which was originally intended to transport cargo but modified to carry passengers.

In July 1620, the Mayflower set sail on its historic journey to the New World. Initially the ship had to turn back twice because Speedwell, the ship that was suppose to travel alongside the Mayflower was leaking. In September 1620, Speedwell was left behind and the Mayflower’s journey finally got underway.

The Mayflower reached Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1620, which was much further north than their original destination near the mouth of the Hudson River.

When the Pilgrims realised they were not in the area that the Virginia Company had given them permission to settle, they decided to establish their own government. This was when the Mayflower Compact was formed.

The Pilgrims managed to survive with the help of Native Americans, particularly a man named Squanto who taught them how to grow corn, and establish good relations with local tribes.

In the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims had a successful harvest, which they celebrated with a feast known as the First Thanksgiving.

The captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, brought the ship back to London. It arrived in May 1621, and he died a year later in March 1622. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s church in Rotherhithe, although today there is no headstone as it was lost when the church was rebuilt in 1715.

FAQs About The Mayflower Ship

How Many Pilgrims Were on the Mayflower?

Out of the 102 passengers on board the Mayflower, 37 were Pilgrims. Some of the leading figures included lawyer Henry Barrowe, and clergymen John Greenwood and Francis Johnson.

Where did the Mayflower Land?

In November 1620, the Mayflower landed at Cape Cod, today known as Provincetown Massachusetts. The settlers disembarked at the nearby site of Plymouth.

How Many People Died on the Mayflower?

Five passengers died on board the Mayflower, and forty five died once they reached America, due to the harsh winter of 1620-21.

Visiting the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe

The Mayflower Pub is a traditional English pub located on Rotherhithe Street on the banks of the Thames. It has a beer garden with river views, and an open fire in the winter time.

If you have a family connection to the original Pilgrim Fathers, and you are able to prove this, you can view and sign the Mayflower Descendants Book, held within the pub.


Photos of the The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe

Below are some of the photographs I took when I visited the Mayflower Pub. You can see the photograph of the blue plaque from when the pub was renamed to commemorate Rotherhithe’s role in the voyage of the Mayflower.

Information on Rotherhithe’s History

In the nineteenth century the Mayflower pub became a popular place for men working on Brunel’s Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel in the world to be built under a river. The original Rotherhithe entrance to the tunnel was only a short distance from the pub.

Today you can visit the Brunel Museum which explores the history of the Thames Tunnel.

Historic Pubs on the River Thames

Below is a list of other old waterside pubs on the River Thames.

This Post was About the History of the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe

Thank you for reading my post about the history of the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe. The Mayflower is a lovely riverside pub that serves classic British dishes like fish and chips and Sunday roasts, and a great place to visit if you are interested in London’s history.