The Harwich Mayflower Heritage Centre has been working with members of the local community to create a series of murals to be fixed to the boundary wall. The theme for the murals was the building, sailing of the Mayflower together with the lives of the Pilgrim Fathers.
The artists were both volunteers and learners on self-improvement courses held at our training centre, and also some pupils from the local senior school who attended on day per week.
The murals show maps of the Harwich Peninsula and of Cape Cod; two represent the animals of the UK the Pilgrims would have been familiar with at home and then what they would have seen on landing in Cape Cod. Further murals depict the building of the ship scenes of Harwich in 17th century England.
Each mural contains a line from the poem The Ship by John Masefield.
By John Masefield
Before Man’s labouring wisdom gave me birth
I had not even seen the light of day;
Down in the central darkness of the earth,
Crushed by the weight of continents I lay,
Ground by the weight to heat, not knowing then
The air, the light, the noise, the world of men.
We grew on mountains where the glaciers cry,
Infinite sombre armies of us stood
Below the snow-peaks which defy the sky;
A song like the gods moaning filled our wood;
We knew no men; our life was to stand stanch,
Singing our song, against the avalanche.
THE HEMP AND FLAX
We were a million grasses on the hill,
A million herbs which bowed as the wind blew,
Trembling in every fibre, never still;
Out of the summer earth sweet life we drew.
Little blue-flowered grasses up the glen,
Glad of the sun, what did we know of men?
We tore the iron from the mountain’s hold,
By blasting fires we smithied it to steel;
Out of the shapeless stone we learned to mould
The sweeping bow, the rectilinear keel;
We hewed the pine to plank, we split the fir,
We pulled the myriad flax to fashion her.
Out of a million lives our knowledge came,
A million subtle craftsmen forged the means;
Steam was our handmaid, and our servant flame,
Water our strength, all bowed to our machines.
Out of the rock, the tree, the springing herb,
We built this wandering beauty so superb.
We, who were born on earth and live by air,
Make this thing pass across the fatal floor,
The speechless sea; alone we commune there,
Jesting with Death, that ever-open door.
Sun, moon, and stars are signs by which we drive
This wind-blown iron like a thing alive.
I march across great waters like a queen,
I whom so many wisdoms helped to make;
Over the uncruddled billows of seas green
I blanch the bubbled highway of my wake.
By me my wandering tenants clasp the hands
And know the thoughts of men in other lands.