The Old Quay, Newlyn – Newlyn, England - Atlas Obscura

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The Old Quay, Newlyn

Newlyn, England

A medieval quay that was the Mayflower's final port of call before sailing for America. 


Most Americans are familiar with the story of the Mayflower, however, what is less well known is that Plymouth was not the Mayflower’s final departure point from the Old World. Several days after it sailed a voyage of around 70 nautical miles, the Mayflower docked into the Cornish village of Newlyn. There, the crew loaded up on fresh water and adjusted its cargo while docked at the Old Quay.

The rugged coastline of Cornwall has many natural harbors and fishing villages. Today, Newlyn is the largest fishing port in England, with around 600 fishing vessels and a large fish market. Humans have been fishing at Newlyn for thousands of years, and at some point built an artificial harbor.

According to records, The Old Quay was built in 1435. Today, visitors can see the old stone jetty with its defensive walls built to withstand pirate attacks. Over the centuries, Newlyn and nearby Penzance were victims of countless pirate raids—the Barbary pirates of the Ottoman Empire being the most feared.

The Spanish Navy also frequented the village. One large raid in July 1595 saw 400 Spanish soldiers land at Newlyn, where they burned many houses. They then marched to Penzance where they burnt over 400 buildings before holding a mass and returning to their ships.

Pirate raids continued until the early 1800s. 

Know Before You Go

Parking at the site is limited, but it's an easy walk from the village parking lot.

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