Discover the History of Boston

Uncover Boston's rich history with an introduction to some of the most iconic landmarks you should visit.

Jane Keightley Guest Blog Main

Boston has a very interesting history and it is well worth spending time exploring the places connected to its fascinating past.

by Jane Keightley, Boston History Tours

When visiting, the obvious place to start is St Botolph's church or the “Stump”, as it is affectionately known by the locals. For hundreds of years, it has towered over the Market Place, and is proof of how rich the town was back in the 14th Century when it was built. Boston had a booming wool trade then and its port was second only to London.

The Stump boasts the highest lantern tower in the country (272 feet) and is also known as a calendar church. This is because the roof is supported by 12 pillars, representing 12 months - and there are 52 windows, seven doors and 365 steps to the top of the tower, symbolising the weeks and days of the year. There are also 24 steps to the library and 60 steps to the roof, nodding to time in the day. If you are feeling energetic climb the tower and you will be rewarded with breath-taking views.

The interior of the church is well worth a visit too and there is a shop and a café where you can rest your weary legs in the beautiful surroundings. Outside the church you can find the Puritan Path, commemorating the founding fathers of the city of Boston, Massachusetts who went from our Boston with John Cotton to establish a settlement for Puritans in New England. Standing in front of the Stump is the statue of Herbert Ingram, staring out towards the Marketplace. He founded the illustrated London News and is well known for bringing the first piped water to Boston.

Heading through the Marketplace towards South Street, on the left you'll find Custom House Quay. This is where, in Medieval times, there would be all the hustle and bustle of ships loading and unloading. Boston traded with the Hanseatic League back then, an association of traders from several German towns led by Lubeck. The aim was to encourage trade and maintain monopolies, to help each other out in case of piracy. It grew to include the Baltic countries – Riga, Tallin, Novgorod and Bergen. The other Hanseatic towns on the East coast were Beverley, Hull. Kings Lynn and Yarmouth. Trade declined over the years and in 1669 the last Hanseatic meeting took place in Lubeck. There is now a new Hanse which Boston has joined. There are leaflets of the Hanseatic Trail available from the Guildhall and Fydell House.

Guildhall Museum Interior

The Guildhall in South Street is a great place to visit and is also the Tourist Information Centre where you can find out more about Boston and the rest of Lincolnshire. Built in the 1390’s, for the Guild of St Mary, it has been central to Boston’s history ever since. Separatists including William Brewster were imprisoned here in 1607 for their attempt to flee to Holland and break with the Church of England. Otherwise known as the Pilgrim Fathers they later fled the country and established settlements in America. Now a museum you can actually sit in the cells where they were imprisoned in the Guildhall. Next door to the Guildhall is Fydell House, which was built in the early 1700’s and has beautiful walled gardens, alongside a fascinating history.

On the other side of town is one of the country’s tallest and finest working windmills. Built in 1819 the mill has 5 sails and still produces home ground flour which is possible to buy in their shop, open on a Saturday and Wednesday. It is also possible to climb all seven floors of this 200 year old windmill.

Boston has an unusual and interesting theatre and arts centre. Blackfriars was converted from the ruins of a Dominican Friary and holds many exhibitions and events as well as hosting well known stars and local amateur dramatics groups. Round off your busy day exploring Boston with an evening’s entertainment in this lovely little theatre.

If you would like to discover more about Boston's fascinating history, you can do so with a captivating and immersive tour. Find out more and book a tour with Boston History Tours here.

Boston History Tours

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