Home Travel Exploring a mesmerising £40m centre dedicated to Plymouth's glorious seafaring past

Exploring a mesmerising £40m centre dedicated to Plymouth's glorious seafaring past


Pilgrim city’s progress: Exploring a mesmerising £40m centre dedicated to Plymouth’s glorious seafaring past

  • This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, the ship that transported pilgrims from Plymouth 
  • A show-stopping exhibition, The Mayflower 400: Legend And Legacy, opens at the city’s new cultural hub
  • The Box, a £40 million complex, is the largest museum, art gallery and archive centre in the South West

Advertisement

Plymouth could be considered the birthplace of modern America – 30 million people can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, whose historic voyage from the city is commemorated with events to mark its 400th anniversary this year.

But even if you don’t have a connection to the ship that transported those first pilgrims, you’ll still be fascinated by the wealth of new cultural events that Plymouth has to offer.

Next week, a show-stopping exhibition, The Mayflower 400: Legend And Legacy, opens at The Box – a gleaming new £40 million cultural and heritage complex which is the largest museum, art gallery and archive centre in the South West.

Plymouth (pictured) could be considered the birthplace of modern America – 30 million people can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, whose historic voyage from the city is commemorated with events to mark its 400th anniversary this year

Plymouth (pictured) could be considered the birthplace of modern America – 30 million people can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, whose historic voyage from the city is commemorated with events to mark its 400th anniversary this year

It features 300 objects documenting that incredible journey in 1620. Perhaps most poignant are the 17th Century children’s toys which allude to the fact that there were 19 families on board, including four unaccompanied children.

There is no shying away from the impact of colonisation since the exhibition has been curated collaboratively with the Native American Wampanoag nation.

The celebration of Plymouth’s past begins in The Box’s magnificent glass atrium entrance. Try not to flinch as you walk beneath 14 ships’ figureheads suspended above – they weigh a total of 20 tons. 

All built by city craftsmen, they adorned the bows of 19th Century warships and have been fully restored to their original, vibrant colours. You’ll be mesmerised by this celebration of the city’s naval and maritime heritage.

The celebration of Plymouth’s past begins in The Box’s magnificent glass atrium entrance where 14 ships’ figureheads are suspended above

The celebration of Plymouth’s past begins in The Box’s magnificent glass atrium entrance where 14 ships’ figureheads are suspended above

Actress Dawn French contributes a voiceover to a virtual re-creation of the 600 vessels that have sunk between Plymouth and the US; you can travel through time to learn how Plymouth transformed from a Bronze Age settlement to become one of the most bombed cities in the Blitz; and you can view paintings by Joshua Reynolds, whose first studio was in Plymouth before he founded the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. 

The 100 Journeys exhibition tells the stories of great explorers with ties to the city, from Sir Francis Drake to intrepid 20th Century mountaineer Gertrude Benham.

And you don’t need to let the history stop even if you get hungry. Head over to Royal William Yard to see the largest collection of listed military buildings in Europe. Formerly the Royal Navy’s victualling depot, today it is a cool blend of swanky, loft-style apartments with galleries, shops, cafes and bars below. 

Take a stroll at dusk here to see harbour lights, night swimmers and ships crossing Plymouth Sound.

Treat yourself to a Plymouth gin and enjoy simple fresh seafood at newcomer The Hook & Line, where Ben Squire and Steve Page run their own fishing boats (thehookandline.co.uk). 

Cuttlefish calamari, line-caught mackerel and honey-glazed prawns with chilli are fresh and tangy – and taste even better with a tot from their rum bar.

  • Mayflower 400: Legend And Legacy – from September 29. Entry free to Plymouth residents and under-18s, £5 ticketed for non-residents (theboxplymouth.com).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Is THIS the location for the John Lewis Christmas advert?

Is THIS the first look at the John Lewis Christmas advert?...

Delta Goodrem FINALLY addresses her future on The Voice

Delta Goodrem's future on The Voice Australia's coaching panel has been in question since Seven acquired the franchise from Nine in September.   And as...

Star of popular Tudor Crisps TV adverts in the 1980s dies from coronavirus aged 87

The star of the popular Tudor Crisps TV adverts in the 1980s has died from coronavirus at the age of 87.Comedian and singer...

Katie Piper shares abhorrent messages from trolls after her eye surgery

'You're the most ugly and repulsive thing I've ever seen': Katie...

Man murders wife then posts YouTube video blaming HER for 'cheating'

Texas father, 48, murders his wife, 30, then uploads chilling video...