Boston – open for work, rest and play

Words by:
Andrew Vaux
Featured in:
May 2024

Affectionately referred to as Lincolnshire’s “hidden gem”, Boston is a historic market town nestled in the beautiful countryside of south Lincolnshire. The town borders the east coast of England where it meets The Wash – one of the largest estuaries in the UK, providing a glorious natural habitat for a range of wildlife.

HISTORY AND HERITAGE
According to legend, Boston is named after St Botolph. It’s said he came to the area in the 7th century and built a monastery and church next to an existing settlement. The settlement was renamed Botolph’s tun (town). However, this story is disputed by some historians who believe its name has a different origin.

Boston wasn’t mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. However, it probably grew into a little town in the late 11th century, or early 12th century when international trade was booming. Boston was well situated to trade with Europe, and it soon became a busy little port, as well as a focal point for the surrounding villages.

In the Middle Ages, wool was England’s most important export, and by the 13th century wool exports from Boston were booming.

In the late 13th century friars came to Boston. The friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world, they went out to preach. There were four orders of friars in Boston: the Dominicans (known as Blackfriars because of the colour of their costumes); Franciscan or grey friars; Carmelites, and (from the early 14th century) Austins or Augustines.

Several buildings in Boston have survived from the Middle Ages. Shodfriars Hall probably dates from the 14th century and St Mary’s Guildhall was built in the 15th century.

By the 16th century, Boston was much less important than it had been in the 13th century. The wool trade had almost stopped by 1500, and the main trade from Boston was coastal trade.

The town only really began to revive in the late 18th century when Holland Fen was drained. The new land was rich and fertile, and soon Boston began to “export” cereals from the area to London.

Although Boston was a market town, there was some industry in the 19th century such as making farm implements, and in the late 19th century a label-making industry.

Today, Boston remains a busy and important town, with a population of 45,000 recorded in 2023.

THINGS TO DO IN BOSTON
• Boston Guildhall Museum – this stunning medieval historic building and museum is a must-see when travelling to Boston. Built in the 1390s, the building is a testament to the wealth and influence of the Guild of St Mary at a time when Boston’s power as a centre of trade was second only to London. The Guildhall is also home to the town’s museum collection where displays and exhibitions bring life to the stories told, and a stunning venue for civil ceremonies and private functions.

• Blackfriars Theatre – a quintessential part of Boston’s history, Blackfriars Theatre is based in The Dominican Friary. It’s home to several popular local amateur dramatic and operatic groups. Throughout the year they host a vast programme of stage productions.

• The Boston War Memorial – remembering the town’s soldiers who fought in the First World War. Located on Bargate Green, the memorial is a cross column with surrounding flowers and benches, giving a lovely and contemplative spot to sit and take in its important inscriptions.

• Pilgrim Woman – a new statue commemorating the story of women and families who were arrested as Puritan separatists during the 17th century. This group of separatists have a large historical significance, and this work commemorates Boston’s important role in the story of the Pilgrims. The installation comes as preparation for the 2030 Puritan anniversary ‘Boston 400’ which celebrates 400 years since the formation of Boston, Massachusetts.

• Fydell House – known as The Grandest House in Boston, a picture-perfect 18th-century Queen Anne house with Georgian alterations nestled in the heart of the Cultural Quarter. This Grade I listed building was built for Lennox Jackson and owned by the Fydell family until being bought by Boston Preservation Trust in the early 1930s.

FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY
Whether you’re looking to fill a weekend of fun activities for the whole family, or fancy somewhere to take the kids on a free evening, there are plenty of family-friendly activities, places to stay, and things to do across Boston and the surrounding areas to keep the young ones entertained.

Treat the family to a day out at Ark Wildlife Park and experience Jurassic Ark, Lincolnshire’s biggest animatronic prehistoric dinosaur attraction. Perfect for young children and teenagers alike, Ark Wildlife Park also offers exciting animal experiences, giving the whole family something unforgettable!

Embrace your inner auto lover with a bite to eat at V-ATE Pit Stop Diner, a quirky car-themed restaurant, great for family meals and lovers of all things with an engine.

Enjoy some friendly competition at Boston Golf, offering junior and adult visitor play, or for something a little more relaxing, why not take an afternoon stroll around Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve and let the little ones learn about Boston’s vibrant nature, whilst breathing in the great outdoors.

AN EPICUREAN DELIGHT
Sitting proudly in Lincolnshire’s rural fenlands, Boston is surrounded by lush farmland contributing hugely to feeding the nation. It’s no surprise that local produce is at the forefront of the foodie culture in the town, and with everything from fine dining to farm shops showing off Lincolnshire’s local produce, there’s something with the flavour of Boston for everyone.

A visit to the town wouldn’t be complete without sampling an iconic Lincolnshire or Boston sausage.

Meanwhile for beer lovers, Batemans Brewery sits right on the town’s doorstep, providing a fantastic selection of high-quality cosy pubs to enjoy, proudly brewing local beers for over 150 years.

CURRENT PROJECTS IN BOSTON
Boston residents are invited to showcase their community pride and creativity as part of a special celebration of where they live.

The Love Your Neighbourhood Campaign features three exciting categories: Best Front Garden/Courtyard, Most Attractive Street/Neighbourhood and Best Village.

Councillor Callum Butler, portfolio holder for environmental services at Boston Borough Council, says: “This campaign not only celebrates the beauty of our borough’s neighbourhoods but also fosters a sense of community pride and unity. Join us in showcasing the very best of Boston Borough and let your neighbourhood shine!”

Entries are now open, with submission deadlines set for Sunday 30th June. Judging will commence in the first week of July, with winners announced the following week.

Participants can enter by emailing their name, address (including postcode) and telephone number to LYN@boston.gov.uk, along with supporting images. If you prefer to enter by post, send the above details to Volunteer Co-ordinator, Boston Borough Council, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston PE21 8QR. Each entry will receive personalised communication regarding the campaign.

The much-loved Boston Bike Night, a highlight for 25 years, is making a grand comeback on Thursday 4th July thanks to a dynamic new team taking the reins.

Sportsbikeshop, alongside Mental Riders and other local businesses, are joining forces to bring this motorcycle extravaganza back to the town centre.

Councillor Dale Broughton, portfolio holder for town centre and events at Boston Borough Council, comments: “I’m delighted that a new team has come forward to save this popular event which has put our town on the map for many years. I’m looking forward to working with them to ensure that this event remains sustainable and continues to develop throughout its new reign.”

The event will span Central Park, Wide Bargate, and Pescod Square, with the Market Place serving as an additional venue.

There’s absolutely no doubt that Boston’s ideal location makes it the perfect place for visitors looking to escape to the countryside whilst keeping all the convenience that being in a lively town brings.

For more information about Boston, visit www.visitlincolnshire.com/boston-tourist-information-centre

Photographs: Mick Fox



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