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General

How The Pilgrims Progressed

The Housing Hour November 18, 2014


Background

 

Special Guest

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How The Pilgrims Progressed

Telling the iconic story of Plymouth Colony was the fulfillment of a young archaeologist’s boyhood dream. With help and support from friends, family and business associates, Henry Hornblower II started the Museum in 1947 as two English cottages and a fort on Plymouth’s historic waterfront. Since then the Museum has grown to include Mayflower II (1957), the English Village (1959), the Wampanoag Homesite (1973), the Hornblower Visitor Center (1987), the Craft Center (1992), the Maxwell and Nye Barns (1994) and the Plimoth Grist Mill (2013).
Today, Plimoth Plantation provides an engaging and experiential outdoor and indoor learning environment on its main campus and at the State Pier on Plymouth’s waterfront. Our permanent exhibits tell the complex and interwoven stories of two distinct cultures – English and Native. The main exhibits are enhanced with an exciting menu of special events, public programs and workshops that offer a rich and diverse exploration of the 17th-century.

plimoth1Generations of families, millions of school children and countless people from all over the world have visited here and participated in Plimoth Plantation’s educational experiences that spark the imagination, delight the senses, touch the heart and enrich the mind.

Plimoth Plantation offers powerful personal encounters with history built on thorough research about the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s.

The guest experience is at the heart of our work. Plimoth’s unique and evocative setting, professional staff and compelling approach to history in an immersive environment combine to provide a guest experience that is at once authentic, engaging, educational and fun. We strive for excellence in our work and are successful when a satisfied guest recommends us to family and friends.

The museum is open in the spring, summer and fall, and each season has something unique to offer — budding gardens, corn planting, harvesting, and cozy fires are just a few of the highlights. It is often less crowded in the springtime than the summer and fall.

During school year, many school children take part in our educational programs. The majority of schools visit in the morning, so during the peak field trip seasons (May-June and October-November) our sites tend to be less crowded in the afternoon.

Plimoth Plantation is located in the beautiful coastal town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. This picturesque seaside destination offers a memorable New England getaway for either a day trip or an extended vacation.

Forefathers monument Discover America’s earliest foundations as you travel back in time at Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II, then visit some of the most historic houses, museums and monuments in Massachusetts – including the statue of Massasoit and the legendary Plymouth Rock, known as the ‘Landing Place of the Pilgrims’. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, a whale watch adventure, deep sea fishing or a harbor cruise. Visiting in the fall? You’ll love the spectacular foliage of a New England autumn and the crimson beauty of a cranberry bog harvest. There’s also wonderful shopping, antiquing, golfing and an impressive selection of lodging Plymouth Rock in Plymouth Massachusetts stand restaurants! Plymouth, Massachusetts is a destination for all seasons and we’re eager to welcome you.
Plymouth is just a 45 minute drive from Boston, 15 minutes to Cape Cod, and a short driving distance to the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard ferries.

Plan Your Visit

How The Pilgrims Progressed

Pilgrim Houses in the 1600s
Imagine that you have arrived in an unknown land after a long sea voyage. It is the middle of winter and bitterly cold. You are weak and tired from seasickness and need a warm house on dry land. You can have that house – if you build it first!
This is what the Pilgrims had to do when they sailed to New England on Mayflower in 1620. The colonists knew there were no English towns where they were going. They were prepared to build their own houses, but they hadn’t expected to have to build those houses in the middle of winter.

The colonists did not plan to arrive in Plymouth so late in the year. There were many delays. Speedwell, a leaky ship that was supposed to travel with Mayflower, had to be left in England, and the Pilgrims had a disagreement with the people who helped pay for the voyage. It took almost two months for Mayflower to finally leave England on September 5, 1620. As a result, Mayflower didn’t arrive in Plymouth until December.
When the colonists arrived in Plymouth, they started to build their town right away. They had brought tools with them, and nails and iron hardware. The land provided everything else they needed. The men went to the woods and cut down trees. They used axes to chop and trim the trees from round to square. Then they fit these pieces together so that they became a frame. This gave shape and strength to the house.
The colonists had thatched roofs on their houses to keep out the sun, wind and rain. To make the roofs, they cut grasses and reeds from the marshes, and bundled them. Then they fastened them in layers to the roof. For the outside of the house, the colonists cut down trees and split the wood to make thin boards called clapboards. The clapboards were then nailed together over the frame of the house.
To make the walls of the house, the colonists built a framework of small sticks called wattle within the house frame. They took clay, earth and grasses and mixed them together with water to make a mortar called daub. They pushed the daub into the wattle until it filled the wall and made a smooth surface on the inside. This smooth surface resembles the plaster on the walls in some modern homes.
It usually took about two or three months to make a house, from framing it, to covering it with clapboards, to making the wattle and daub, and finally thatching the roof. Work on the finishing touches sometimes went on for a few more months even after the family began living in it.

When the houses were finished, they were not very large. Because the Pilgrims hoped to own their own land and build better houses in the future, the houses in Plymouth Colony in the 1620s were not as comfortable as the ones the Pilgrims left behind in England and Holland. Most of their houses only had one room. The colonists did their cooking, eating, and sleeping, as well as other work, in this room. The women cooked around a hearth, where small fires were lit. The fire from the hearth provided heat during the winter months and light at night. Candles and oil lamps were sometimes lit too. If there was a chimney, it was built of timber and clay and clapboards just like the rest of the house.

Most of the time, the houses were very dark. They had only a few small windows that closed with a wooden shutter. The floors were hard-packed earth. Some houses had a storage space above the first floor, called a loft. These spaces were used to store food and other goods, like dried herbs from the garden, bundles of corn from the fields, or even beds. They used ladders to climb up to the loft.

The English colonists had a very difficult time during that first winter as they were building their town. About half of the men, women and children who sailed on Mayflower died of sicknesses brought on by the cold and wet weather and by not having warm houses. By the next winter, however, they had built 11 new houses. The town began to grow, and the colonists finally had the shelter they needed.

Check out Blog:

Mayflower Letter that Launched a New World!

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