The Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society has named its first two speakers for next year’s Mayflower 400 London Lectures – barely a month after hearing it had received funding for the talks. And they are two of the world’s leading authorities on the subject.

Society president Michael Daniels has announced that Adrian Gray and Nick Bunker which begin the series of events which it is planning for summer and autumn 2020.

The talks and walks will commemorate the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower’s departure from Rotherhithe, the home port and final resting place of the ship and her master.

The five talks are to be staged chronologically, so these first two speakers will provide the context and background to the voyage.

The Long Search for Freedom, on 27 May 2020, is to focus on a group of people from the Midlands and what drove them to embark on an extraordinary voyage across the Atlantic, creating both history and a major step towards religious freedom in the process.

Seafarers, Puritans and Beaver Hats, on 24 June 2020, will provide an insight into how the voyage was financed by trade and negotiations in the City of London.

“Adrian and Nick are two of the most prominent historians in the Mayflower world, and we are delighted that they are coming to share their expert knowledge with us here in Rotherhithe,” said Michael Daniels.

“Their talks will provide a unique opportunity to discover the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the famous voyage, and many of the themes they will explore are likely to be as relevant today as they were 400 years ago.”

Rita Cruise O’Brien (co-director, Mayflower 400 London Lectures) added: “Adrian Gray is an expert local historian from the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire area and will talk of the history of the Trent Valley where the pilgrims first started their journey into exile in Holland in 1607. He will trace the origins of the separatist movement and the long story of non-conformism in this part of England.

“Nick Bunker is author of Making Haste from Babylon, the most outstanding modern book on the pilgrim story. He will consider the role of trade and finance in maritime London and the origins of the Mayflower project. His talk will include his fascinating research which uncovered the significance of the beaver trade in the making of the Plymouth Colony.”

The talks will take place in Rotherhithe and will be open to everyone at affordable admission fees. Further speakers to be announced.

The series is funded by the Southwark Mayflower 400 Grants Fund.

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