A mid-C17 house, later school and office, with C18 and C20 additions and alterations.
Reasons for Designation
* Architectural Interest: It is a very fine example of the Fen Artisan Mannerist style of building, several other listed example of which are seen elsewhere in Lincolnshire. The style and execution of detail are unusual, particularly that to the south elevation.
* Group Value: It has a strong historical and physical relationship with the St Botolph's Church (Grade I) immediately to the south and holds a significant place in Boston's social and architectural history.
Despite some fluctuation in its fortunes Boston remained a prosperous port and market town from the middle ages into the C19, its social, economic and political history reflected in its town plan and buildings. From the C12 to the C15 it was one of the busiest ports in England, its wealth based principally on the trade in wool, cloth and luxury goods. Boston's market was first recorded between 1125 and 1135, and the annual fair was one of the great trade fairs of Europe. The medieval town grew around streets on either side of the River Witham, now the High Street to the west and South Street to the east. The latter opens to a wide market place to the north, from which narrow medieval lanes travel east and north to Church Street, St Botolph's Church and Wormgate.
The medieval period is represented by fragments of the Dominican friary surviving as the Blackfriars Arts Centre (Grade II*) on Spain Lane, the only visible evidence of the four friaries established in the town in the C12 and C13. Evidence of the town's thriving C14 and C15 engagement in the North Sea wool trade survives in the Guildhall (Grade I) of the Guild of St Mary, one of several religious guilds in the town at this period. Following the incorporation of Boston as a borough in 1545 and the dissolution of the religious guilds two years later, the assets of the Guild of St Mary, including the Guildhall, were transferred to the Corporation. Later C18 fen drainage and the construction of the Grand Sluice realised the value of the Corporation's estate; the increase in income funding significant building projects in the town, including the Exchange Buildings of 1770-1772 (formerly the Corporation Buildings) to the west of the Market Place (Grade II*). This renewed prosperity continued into the first half of the C19, when agricultural enclosure generated new wealth from a now highly productive rural hinterland. The corporation invested in further public building, notably the Assembly Rooms, completed in 1822 (Grade II*) to the north of the Exchange Buildings. The Grade II listed buildings that form an irregular terrace, 42-50 Market Place, also date to the first half of the C19, as do eight Grade II listed warehouses. Between the mid-C18 and mid-C19 the town's suburbs grew to the north-west and east of the Market Place, with limited development to the west of the river.
Boston continued to thrive economically until the construction of the railway in 1848; this brought a station and growth to the west of the town, but withdrew outgoing goods from the port. A new dock constructed by the corporation to the south of the town in 1884 renewed seaborne trade and brought development to an area of previously agricultural land. By the late C19 the town had reached almost its present extent. Although there was new building within the town in the C20, notably the construction of the inner ring road, John Adams Way, much historic fabric has been retained; this is reflected in the comprehensive coverage of Boston in the National Heritage List for England.
Church House, No.1 Wormgate, is a mid-C17 house, its south gable facing the north side of St Botolph's Church. Pishey Thompson, in his History of the Antiquities of Boston (1856), refers to this building as the house 'where Laughton's School was taught for many years', but also associates it with a pre-Reformation Church House (perhaps an earlier building), the place from which alms were distributed. The house is now used as the parish office. There is a single-storey, C20 addition to the east, and the plan form of the ground floor has been remodelled and opened to the Blenkin Memorial Hall immediately to the north, built in 1893.
MATERIALS: Red/brown hand-made brick with plain tile roof.
PLAN: The plan is T-shaped at first-floor level, with a flat roofed single-storey addition to the east. The main range is of two storeys with attic; the east wing of two storeys. To the centre is a single truncated ridge stack.
EXTERIOR: Church House is built in the Fen Artisan Mannerist style. The south front, facing the church, is set on a plinth and has rusticated quoins and a shaped Dutch gable. There are paired two-light cross-mullioned casement windows with small leaded panes to ground and first floors, those to the ground floor with external shutters, and a three-light window to the attic, placed slightly off-centre within the gable below a brick arch with keystone. There are similar arches of rusticated brick above the ground and first-floor windows of diminishing width from the ground floor upwards, each set below a three course brick storey band which follows the line of the arches.
The west elevation has an off-centre door raised two steps above the pavement and set within a brick doorcase in Roman Doric style with a brick pediment. To the left of the door is a single, three-light leaded casement to each floor. Above the doorcase slightly to the right is a small two-light casement. To the north is a small irregular shaped lead-paned window set immediately below and to the west side of the roof apex. To the east the later wing is of box frame construction with a single lead-paned casement window to the first floor.
INTERIOR: The interior has been largely modernised and the ground floor opens into the Blenkin Memorial Hall to the north. There are rooms to the south on the ground and first floor, and a second room to the north on the ground floor, all with slightly chamfered axial beams. Historic joinery detail includes window shutters and a small plank and batten cupboard door beside a modern fireplace in the first floor room to the south. The three-light south attic window has ovolo mouldings to the inside and timber framing can be seen in the north gable. The roof structure is entirely modern.