Southwark’s Blue Plaque nominees 2017: The Mayflower Pub

Voting has opened for this year’s Southwark Heritage Association Blue Plaques scheme. There are seven worthy nominees, of which only one will get a plaque this year. But who are they and why should they get your vote? To help you decide we’ll be featuring one nominee per week over the next 7 weeks of voting.

This week, read on to discover more about The Mayflower Pub

The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe Street takes its name from one of the most famous ships in history, but the inn first recorded at this site from around 1550 was known simply as ‘The Shippe’. This is the name by which Captain Christopher Jones would have known it, when in the summer of 1620 he might have popped in on the way to fit out his ship, the Mayflower for its trans-Atlantic voyage. The money for Captain Jones’s pint of ale came from the proceeds of the Mayflower’s regular trips across the Channel, exchanging English woollens for French wine, to Norway with hats, hemp, salt, hops, and vinegar, and perhaps occasionally to the North Atlantic for whaleing.

On its more famous voyage in 1620 the Mayflower carried 102 English Puritans who were seeking religious freedom in the New World, plus a crew of about 25 to 30. The ship took several weeks preparing for the trip, moving from Rotherhithe to Southampton and then to Plymouth before setting sail for America, finally arriving there in November of that year.

Mayflower 1931 Joan Bloxam

In 1780, just four years after the United States of America declared its independence The Shippe underwent its first change of name. At that time the voyage of the Mayflower would have been a rather unpatriotic thing to commemorate in England. It was renamed the Spread Eagle and Crown. This conincided with the rebuilding of the inn, bringing it more or less to the configuration that we see today.

During the Second World War the pub was badly damaged, losing most of the upper storey. This was carefully restored to match the ground floor and to retain the character of the original rooms. After the war, Anglo-American relations were seen as something to be celebrated so in 1955 the name The Mayflower was finally assumed.

Mayflower 1955

The Mayflower in 1955, still missing its top floor

The Mayflower Pub still celebrates its transatlantic connections, with both the Union flag and the American stars and stripes waving over the Thames from the outside terrace. To this day it is the only public house licensed to sell postage stamps, so American tourists can easily send a postcard home from Rotherhithe.

In Summary:

A fine pub with a link to Rotherhithe’s proud maritime past and to one of history’s most famous ships. Will you #VoteTheMayflower?

Voting ends on 15 September 2017. You can vote by emailing Southwark Heritage Association: admin@southwark.org.uk or the Southwark News: owen@southwarknews.co.uk. You can also vote in person at all Southwark libraries and at both the Mayflower, Rotherhithe Street and Half Moon, Herne Hill.

 

 

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