Boston, Lincolnshire

For other uses, see Boston (disambiguation).

Template:GBdot Template:Getamap, population 54,000 (1996), is a town in Lincolnshire, on the East coast of England. It received its charter in 1545, and is twinned with Laval, France. It is the main town in the administrative district, the borough of Boston. The name "Boston" is a contraction of "Saint Botolph's Town". Its primary landmark is The Stump, the parish church with the highest tower in England, visible in the flat lands of Lincolnshire for miles. Residents of Boston are known as "Bostonians". Boston falls under the postal district of Peterborough with the postcode PE21. Boston Borough uses PE20 and PE22.



Ever fewer people believe the story, still current, that a settlement in Boston dates from 654, when a Saxon monk named Botolph established a monastery on the banks of the River Witham. One reason for doubting this is that in 654, the Witham did not flow near the site of Boston. (The early medieval geography of The Fens was much more fluid than it is today.) Botolph's establishment is most likely to have been by the estuary of the Alde in Suffolk. Template:Getamap, However, he was a popular missionary, to whom many churches between Lincolnshire and Sussex are dedicated.

Mediæval to early modern times

Domesday Book of 1086, does not mention Boston by name. However, the wealthy settlement of Skirbeck is covered. It had two churches and one is likely to have been that dedicated to St Botolph, in what was consequently Botolph's town. Template:Getamap, is now considered part of Boston, but the name remains as a church parish. Boston grew into a town during the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1204 when the quinzieme was levied— a duty which was raised on the fifteenth part of land and goods— at the various ports of England, and the merchants of London paid £836, those of Boston paid £780 Madox, History of the Exchequer (

Thus by the opening of the Thirteenth century, it was already a significant port for trade with the continent of Europe and ranked as a port of the Hanseatic League. It was one of the official "staple towns" of England, authorized to carry on the import and export trade Much of Boston's trade at this time was in wool, and Boston is often said by the locals to have been built on wool. Apart from wool, Boston also exported salt, grain, and lead. The wool trade began to decline in the 15th Century as the industry shifted to different parts of the country, the Hanse merchants quit the town, and Boston's wealth began to decline.

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Blackfriars Arts Centre

In the 13th and 14th centuries four orders of friars arrived in Boston: Dominicans, Franciscan, Carmelites, and Augustinians. As the English Reformation progressed, their friaries were closed by King Henry VIII. The refectory of the Dominican friary was eventually converted into a theatre in 1965, and now houses the Blackfriars Arts Centre.

The town received its charter from Henry VIII in 1545, and Boston had two Members of Parliament from 1552.

Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

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In 1607 a group of Pilgrims led by William Brewster and William Bradford attempted to escape pressure to conform with the teaching of the English church by going to the Netherlands from Boston. At that time unsanctioned emigration was illegal, and they were imprisoned in the Guildhall. Most of the pilgrims were released fairly soon and the following year, set sail for The Netherlands, settling in Leiden. In 1620, several of these were among the group who moved to New England in the Mayflower.

Boston remained a hotbed of religious dissent. In 1612 John Cotton became the vicar of St. Botolph's and, although viewed askance by the Church of England for his non-conformist preaching, became responsible for a large increase in Church attendance. He encouraged those who disliked the lack of religious freedom in England to join the Massachusetts Bay Company, and later helped to found the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Unable to tolerate the religious situation any longer he eventually emigrated himself in 1633.

Boston saw a revival during the late 18th century when the Fens began to be effectively drained. The land was fertile, and Boston began exporting cereals to London. In 1774 the first financial bank was opened, and in 1776 an Act of Parliament allowed watchmen to begin patrolling the streets at night.

Nineteenth century to the present day

In the nineteenth century, the names, first of Howden, near the Grand Sluice and later, of Tuxford, near the Maud Foster Sluice, were respected among engineers for their steam road locomotives, thrashing engines and the like. Howden developed his business from making steam engines for river boats while Tuxford began as a miller and millwright. His mill was once prominent near Skirbeck church, just to the east of the Maud Foster drain.

The railway reached the town in 1848 and briefly, it was on the main line from London to the North. The area between the Black Sluice and the A52 was a railway yard and the main depôt. The latter facility moved to Doncaster when the modern main line was opened. Boston had a major railway and station had a heavy traffic well into the twentieth century, moving the produce of the district and the trade of the dock, plus the excursion trade to Skegness and similar places. But it was much quieter after the Beeching cutbacks of the 1960s.

Boston once again became a significant port in trade and fishing when, in 1884, new docks were constructed. It continued as a working port, exporting grain, fertilizer, and importing timber although much of the fishing trade was moved out in the inter-war period. The first cinema opened in 1910, and the town was used by film makers during the Second World War to represent the Netherlands when the real thing was not able to cooperate. In 1913 a new town bridge was constructed. Central Park was purchased in 1919, and is now one of the focal points of the town. Electricity came to Boston during the early part of the century, and electrical street lighting was available from 1924.

The town largely avoided the development boom of the 1960s but a new shopping centre named Pescod Centre opened in 2004, bringing many new shops into the town. Further development is planned.

The town is experiencing something of a boom at present. By the standards of recent decades, it has seen a large increase in immigration recently, most notably from Eastern Europe and Portugal. This has led to some racial tension, which came to a head during the 2004 European Football Championship, when something akin to rioting occurred briefly. However, as a sea port and holder of trade fairs, the town was long accustommed to seamen from the Baltic, Hansa merchants and so on. After the surrounding land was drained, there were influxes of seasonal labourers from other parts of England, from Ireland or other parts of Europe. People occasionally became excited then too.

Sites of interest

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Boston Stump viewed from the market place

Boston is located in the Lincolnshire Fens in the part of the county known as Holland, one of the flattest areas in England. Holland, like the rest of the Fens, was drained by Dutch workers in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Later, from the mid eighteenth to the mid twentieth century, English engineers like the Grundys, father and son and the Scotsman, Rennie, were slowly able to get it into order and the Boston region began to prosper agriculturally. Much of the area around the town is arable farmland, since the silt soils of the Fens make this area one of the more intensively worked centres of the English farming industry. The land is particularly suited to cauliflowers, onions and potatoes but is productive generally.

The magnificent mediaeval parish church, with its high tower, is known locally as the "Boston Stump". It can be seen for many miles around the town. Building on the current church began in the 14th Century, though archaeological records indicate that a wooden Norman church had existed on the same site.

The Maud Foster windmill, completed in 1819, is the largest operating windmill in England following extensive restoration during the 1980s and early 1990s and is now a working museum. It is unusual for having an odd number (five) of sails.

The Guildhall in which the Pilgrim Fathers were tried and imprisoned, was converted into a museum in 1929. The American Room was opened by the U.S. Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, in 1938. Freiston Shore is a nature reserve, and lies on The Wash coast north of the mouth of The Haven. The Pilgrim Fathers Memorial is located on the north bank of The Haven a few miles outside the town. It was here at Scotia Creek, that the Pilgrims made their first attempt to leave for Holland in 1607.

The Boston May Fair has been held in the town every year since at least 1125. This fair is held during the first week of May, and is one of the largest outdoor fairs in the country. By tradition, the fair is officially opened by the incumbent mayor at 11 am on the May Day bank holiday.

The Prime Meridian passes through Boston, marked by Meridian Road (Template:Mmukpc) which straddles the line.

See also

External links

Template:Coor gbxde:Boston (England) eo:Boston (Anglio)


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