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WOOD YOU BELIEVE IT; Timber from Mayflower found in a pub.


LOST in the mists of time, the ship that helped build America may have finally been found - in a Midland pub.

Amateur historian Steve Pointer claims that timber from the legendary Mayflower was used to build the Old Bell in Gloucester. The ship famously transported the Pilgrim Fathers to Virginia in 1620 and became part of American history.

Years later, the Mayflower was scrapped and its timber sold to a mystery buyer.

Now, Steve says he has tracked the ship's remains down to the haunted pub - following a ghost hunt.

"While in the Old Bell, I saw visions of men dressed like the Pilgrim Fathers," said the 37 year-old medium.

"I immediately felt the sensation that I was on a boat. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the Mayflower.

"But it wasn't until me and a colleague, Nicky Lynch, began some research that we found fascinating coincidences.

"And they prove that we could be right." The history sleuths discovered that the famous ship had belonged to the Virginia Company, which was owned by a powerful Gloucester family, the Berkeleys.

The Pilgrim Fathers had hired the Mayflower to travel to America and set sail from Southampton in 1620. "The ship stayed with the Pilgrims Fathers in America through their first winter and arrived back in England in May, 1621," said Steve.

"Captain Christopher Jones took the Mayflower on another trading run to France later that year, but he died in 1622.

"The ship was left in the harbour to decay and in 1624 the Virginia Company folded after a tax dispute with the King."

Official documents show the Mayflower was eventually scrapped and its timber sold to an un-named buyer for pounds 128.

But Steve and Nicky say there are intriguing clues that show the Berkeleys bought the wood - and that the Old Bell could well have been built with it.

The wooden front of the premises - complete with 17th century shiplike windows - bears a remarkable similarity to contemporary descriptions of the Mayflower.

The Berkeley family crest also adorns an ornate fireplace in the bar, while other wooden walls bend outwards like the hull of a ship.

And during renovations earlier this year, a large deposit of salt was found behind some beams - evidence which proves that the timber was once used at sea.

"We believe that the Berkeley family bought the timber and then transported it to Gloucester, which was a busy working docks at the time," said Steve.

"If we are right, the wood was used to build a house on Southgate Street, and that later became the pub we see today"Scrap wood was an extremely valuable commodity in England at the time and was often used to build houses."

But the pub's current occupiers remain unconvinced.

Landlady Nicky Hardwick, 35, said: "Until someone comes up with some concrete evidence that the building was made from the Mayflower, I'll remain sceptical.

"I have enough trouble as it is with ghosts in the pub - including a Cavalier who walks up and down the stairs and a black dog that appears in the restaurant


HAUNTED: the Old Bell; MYSTERY: a replica of the Mayflower and, right, amateur historian Steve Pointer
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 6, 2005
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