I once heard a story that a visitor to Lincolnshire, on discovering that there is a town in our county called Boston, said how nice it was that we named our towns after cities in the USA. Of course it’s the other way round. In 1612 John Cotton, non-conformist Vicar of St Botolph’s Church (aka “The Stump”) in Boston Lincolnshire encouraged his flock to join the Massachusetts Bay Company, and he later helped to found the city of Boston, Massachusetts (1630).
This is a rather basic example of the kind of historical fact about Boston Lincolnshire that makes it a town well worth visiting if you are on our patch, and there are lots more. Did you know that earlier, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Boston was a major trading port, second only to London? Or that by the opening of the thirteenth century, Boston ranked as a port of the Hanseatic League, the commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns dominating Baltic maritime trade along the coast of Northern Europe?
There’s no better place to get the feel of Boston’s distant and recent past than its ancient Guildhall in South Street. It’s now an excellent museum, with a wealth of stories to tell from the town’s 600 years of history, including the flight to the Netherlands of the group of pilgrims following imprisonment in the Guildhall, some of whom later were among the group now known as the Pilgrim Fathers, who sailed to New England in the Mayflower in 1620.
You can also find out about the drainage of the surrounding fens, the impact of the railways and the Guildhall’s wartime role as one of the famous British Restaurants, communal kitchens created in 1940 during the Second World War to help people who had been bombed out of their homes, had run out of ration coupons, or otherwise needed help.
I do recommend The Guildhall Museum, and admission is free. It’s normally open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm but do check on their website beforehand or call 01205 365954, as occasionally the museum is booked for special functions, such as weddings. Boston is about 17 miles from Woodhall Spa by car, or Brylaine buses run an hourly service from the bus stop opposite the Police Station.