I never knew, until a few weeks ago, that they originally left for the New World from Southampton - still a major port for transatlantic voyages. To be fair, Southampton doesn't make much of its connection with the Pilgrims, beyond a monument that also commemorates American World War II dead.
Dartmouth and the Mayflower ConnectionAfter leaving Southampton, the Mayflower and her sister ship, the Speedwell, set off. But the Speedwell began taking on water (some stories suggest the crew deliberately sabotaged her to get out of their long contracts). So the two ships pulled into Dartmouth for repairs.
While repairs were undertaken, the ships sheltered in Bayard's Cove on the River Dart, pictured above (top) which, at that time was Dartmouth's only harbor. The seawalls and riverfront probably looked much the same as they do now and a few of the houses, which date from the 17th century, may also have been standing then.
The First Thanksgiving?
According to a local story, the Pilgrim's being a difficult bunch, and separatists to boot, were not really welcomed by the Dartmouth townspeople. So they moved up river to wait out the repairs. The field pictured above (bottom) is identified on tour boats that ply the Dart as Pilgrims' Hill, the place where the Pilgrims held their last worship service, giving thanks before leaving on their voyage. This may, of course, be a total fabrication - since after they left Dartmouth, the Pilgrims reached Lands End before being forced by the leaky Speedwell to turn back once again, this time to Plymouth, for their final and successful attempt.