Building and Sailing a 17th-Century Replica

By Richard A. Stone
Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot 267 pages $32.95

The restoration of Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America in 1620 and launched a nation, by the shipwrights at Mystic Seaport Museum’s Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard in Mystic, CT, has been documented on these pages, as was her historic relaunching in 2019. But there’s much more to the story.

Written by Richard A. Stone with a foreword by James W. Baker, retired director of research at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Project Mayflower documents a vessel listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. More than two and a half million people visit the ship in Plymouth, MA every year, though most are unaware of her fascinating history.

In the 1950s, a British World War II veteran named Warwick Charlton had a dream to build an historically accurate replica, sail her across the Atlantic to the USA, and present her as a thank-you to England’s wartime ally.

Charlton was unaware that Henry “Harry” Hornblower II, the son of a powerful New England financier, had a similar plan. Hornblower wanted a replica as the star attraction for the museum he was building, Plimoth Plantation. A chance meeting in 1955 led to Charlton and Hornblower agreeing to join forces to build the ship. Despite financial and political influences that nearly scuttled the project, Mayflower II made the voyage from England to Massachusetts in the skilled hands of legendary Australian skipper Alan Villiers, his intrepid crew and their mascot, Felix the cat. The never-before told story of a great adventure, Project Mayflower is a great read.

The founder of Mayflower Event News, an information platform devoted to stories about the original Mayflower and Mayflower II, Richard A. Stone is a graduate of Harvard (BA in Economics) and UCLA (MA in Journalism). He’s worked at NBC, HBO, Time Inc., and ESPN/Disney, and been a consultant to the Plimoth Patuxet Museums. He lives in
Cos Cob, CT. ■

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