This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Boston

Boston in Lincolnshire is one of several historic towns identified by Historic England as meriting particular attention, to encourage people to appreciate and cherish their extraordinary heritage.

St Botolph’s Church, Boston
St Botolph’s church, Boston and some fine Victorian banks frame Boston’s market place.

Boston is a hidden gem. It may be off the beaten track, but is worth seeking out. The town is best known for its thriving market and for the ‘Stump’: the tower of St Botolph’s church, which happens to be the tallest of any parish church in England.

But Boston has much more to interest and intrigue the visitor, as revealed in a new book published by Historic England in 2015 called: Boston, Lincolnshire: historic North Sea port and market town.

St Mary’s Guildhall, Boston
St Mary’s Guildhall with its 18th century sash windows contrasting with the Gothic tracery of its west window.

In medieval times, Boston was the most important port in England outside London, with connections throughout northern Europe. The network of alleys leading off the vast Market Place was established over 600 years ago, and many timber-framed structures lurk behind 18th and 19th-century façades.

The Guildhall (now a museum), built in around 1390, is one of the earliest brick buildings in Lincolnshire. It still has the cells where two Pilgrim Fathers are thought to have been held when they first tried, unsuccessfully, to escape religious persecution by leaving for America.

Maud Foster Mill, Boston
Mill, waterway and cottages in Boston combine to create a landscape that could almost be Dutch: Maud Foster Drain with Maud Foster Mill (1819) and late 18th century cottages

Boston’s prosperity is reflected in its buildings, for example the splendid Fydell House in South Square and other grand Georgian houses in the High Street and Wide Bargate.

Many buildings are thought to resemble those of the Netherlands. Indeed, in 1942 – when filming could not be carried out in Nazi-occupied Europe – the town stood in for the Netherlands in Powell & Pressburger’s film ‘One of Aircraft is Missing’.

Swan decoration on former Anderson’s feather works, Boston
This swan crowns the former Anderson’s feather works in Trinity Street, Boston

The banks of the river Witham (which is called the Haven as it passes through Boston) show off Boston’s maritime past, including the Custom House (1725) and old warehouses, now mostly converted to apartments.

In the early 19th century, Boston became an important industrial centre. Reminders of this are the Maud Foster windmill, which still produces flour, and a factory with a façade dominated by a giant swan. Why the swan? Because the factory processed feathers, once a major local industry.

Centenary Methodist Church, Boston
One of the most impressive nonconformist chapels of its period in England, Centenary Methodist Chapel, opened in 1910 after its predecessor was destroyed by fire.

As Boston expanded, well-to-do citizens moved from the centre to handsome villas, especially along Spilsby Road to the north east and along the banks of the Witham. New churches were built, such as the beautiful Arts & Crafts influenced St Thomas’s and the almost baroque Centenary Methodist Chapel.

These and many other buildings, ranging from the grand to the downright quirky, are featured in Boston, Lincolnshire: historic North Sea port and market town.

This historic Lincolnshire town deserves to be seen in a new light.

Was this page helpful?