The Pilgrims Before Plymouth

A tour of the Dutch city of Leiden yields new insights into a chapter of the Thanksgiving story not taught in schools

Aerial view of the city of Leiden, Holland (© Picture Partners / Alamy)

St. Peter’s Church (Pieterskerk)

St. Peters Church
(John Hanc)
This Gothic church, with its awe-inspiring, vaulted ceiling, is located in the middle of what would have been called the Pilgrims’ neighborhood. A number of the English lived in the area, most significantly, John Robinson. He, along with many other Pilgrim men, women and children, are now buried in the Pieterskerk. For these individuals, who never made it to the New World, Leiden was the last stop on their pilgrimage. A monument to them in the church quotes Pilgrim Robert Cushman’s Bible–inspired comment:

“We are all, in all places, strangers and pilgrims.”

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