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Land of the Pilgrims
Boston in General
Member Name: Trayo
Boston in General
Date: 28/05/01, updated on 07/05/05 (188 review reads)
Advantages: rich in history, a shopper's delight
Disadvantages: that cold Lincolnshire wind!
Situated on the River Witham, with an area of approximately 139 square miles (that's 360 square kilometres for those of you who work in "new money"!), Boston has had a rich and varied history.
The now small port, which rests at the edge of The Wash, was once the second busiest port in England. In the 13th Century, the port dealt mainly in wool and wine. In fact, the town's wealthy standards took a downturn as the river became victim to silting, thus altering the trading patterns.
Boston is nestled in the midst of The Fens area of Lincolnshire, a chiefly agricultural area due to its geographical characteristics. Reclaimed from the sea, The Fens are flat with a soil type so richly geared towards crop growing.
The history of Boston can be traced back to 645 AD, when Botolph built a monastery close to the River Witham. Ships from the continent would carry their wares along the river into Boston, where they were then distributed throughout the country.
In 1545, Boston was granted its own charter and became a borough.
In the 17th Century, many of the Boston residents travelled to Massachusetts in search of a new life. Their influence not only saw their new township named "Boston", but also enhanced the development of the colony and shaped it to be the way it is today.
The Puritans set sail from Boston in their search for the New World.
So what does modern Boston have to offer?
An important centre for trade for the local people, Boston is famed for its shopping area.
Markets are held here twice weekly (Wednesday and Saturday), where local produce can be purchased alongside household items and clothes. The market sees visitors from all over the East Midlands, with holidaymakers in nearby Skegness filling the buses to and from Boston.
Wide Bargate plays host to the Auctions on The Green, where literally anything can be bought or sold. The Green also pl
ays host to the annual May fair, held the first week in May and providing entertainment for those who are so inclined as to wish to scare themselves half to death!
Around the Green sit many other shops, such as small electrical retailers, furniture showrooms and clothing stores, plus the inevitable supermarkets vieing for your business!
Strait Bargate and the Market Place hold many well-known high street stores, such as Marks and Spencer, Woolworths, Boots plus Boston's own, impressive department store, Oldrids.
Boston has retained its Medieval street pattern, with numerous little lanes radiating from the centre of town, where all manner of small, specialist shops await the opportunity to intrigue and delight you. One such lane is Dolphin Lane, which runs from Market Place to Pump Square (a handy little tip follows: Pump Square houses the Jungle Gym, a little indoor adventure play area, well- supervised, where you can leave your little darlings for an hour or twop whilst you shop in peace!).
Pescod Hall is just a moment's walk from Pump Square. This enchanting little building was built in the 15th century and has maintained all of those characteristics, despite now being used as a fashion department for Oldrids Department store.
Wormgate, situated behind the Parish Church of St Botolph (better known as Boston Stump - more on that later!), is a delightful cobbled street, which contains such joys as the factory shop of Jakemans' sweets, where one can buy all manner of sweets from the old-fashioned humbug to the more modern novelty jellies. The delicious scent of jakemans Winter Warmers is often to be found wafting over the Town Bridge, and is wonderful at clearing the lungs on a cold winter's day!
St Botolph's Church - The aforementioned Stump - sits on the banks of the River Witham and is a marvel of architectural design. Due to the physical characteristics of Lincolnshire (the land being f
latter than the proverbial pancake) The Stump can be seen for many miles, and is also known as the Queeen of the Fens. In days gone by, fires would be lit on the top of the tower to act as a beacon to guide ships safely into the port.
The Stump was begun in 1309, and not completed until 1390 - even then without its famous tower. The tower was begun in 1425-30, and was completed in 1510-20. For a small fee, visitors can climb part of the tower (beware - the spiral, stone staircase is a killer!) where the most spectacular views across lincolnshire are to be found; on a clear day, not only can the coastal town of Skegness be seen, but also Lincoln cathedral, some 32 miles to the west!
Inside the Stump, there is plenty to please the eye. The wood carvings on the pews are most intricate, and range from simple animals such as foxes, swans and dogs to comical scenes such as the hunter - complete with bow and arrow - being chased by his wife, and jesters with cats. The Pillar of Crist's Flagellation can also be found. even the elbow rests are decorated in the same manner, with one housing a fox dressed up as a priest.
The Stump contains memorials to the five men of Boston who became Governors of massachusetts; George bass and Joseph banks, who both sailed with captain Cook to Australia, and John Taverner, the composer - who is reputed to have been buried beneath the tower.
The tower of the Stump stands a proud 272.5 feet high (83m). Constant restoration work is carried out to keep the Stump at its best, with the restorers fighting such evils as pollution and pigeon muck! (Not to mention the grinding wind which can whistle around the tower!)
The Guildhall was built in 1450, and was designated to be the Town Hall in 1546. It contained the Council Chambers, Kitchen, Banqueting Hall, Court Room and Cells. It is now a museum.
The Pilgrim fathers were tried in the Guildhall in 1607, and imprisoned in the cells t
here. Visitors can themselves try the cells to see just how hard it must have been to have been imprisoned there.
There is a small fee for admission to the Guildhall, which is open every day. It is free on Thursdays, and a Sony Walkman audio tour is included in the admission charge.
Boston is becoming an important centre for the arts. The Blackfriars Arts Centre, down Spain Lane in the West End of the town, plays host to theatrical productions (including its own senior and youth groups), and has a Palmer and Bell cinema screen.
The Sam Newsome Music Centre continues to grow in importance, too. Built from a refurbished seed warehouse in the 1980s, this centre has been used as a platform for music groups both local and national, and is regularly used by the music students at the local schools and college.
Along the main route through town to Skegness sits the Maud Foster Mill. The tallest windmill in use in the whole of England, this mill was built in 1819 and used to grind the corn which was brought along the Maud Foster Drain in barges. Today, it still produces flour from local grain. Open wednesdays and weekends, the five-sailed mill offers the opportunity to climb to the top and view the internal workings as it goes about its daily grind (groan!).
Eating will never be a problem, with Boston having something to suit everyone's tastes. From the usual fast food outlets, through the many pubs and small restaurants and coffee houses, right to the international restaurants (such as Chinese, Indian, Thai and Italian) Boston has it all.
From a residential point of view, Boston has a lot to offer. With a wealth of different types of housing available, with typical prices for a three bedroomed semi at around £68,000, Boston has, in recent years, seen a wave of activity with many people moving from the South of the country. Medical facilities are good, with doctors' services, dentists and optical care
being reasonably easy to find (compared to a lot of other places locally, anyway!). The Pilgrim Hospital is continually expanding and upgrading its services, although, as it provides medical care for a large area, some waiting is inevitable.
Schools in Boston have a relatively high standard on the whole. There are numerous primary schools, some larger than others, and secondary education is provided by the two grammar schools, the haven high School and the Kitwood Boys' and Girls' schools. There is a thriving Further Education college, offering courses in most subjects, and leading to qualifications in all areas ranging from GCSE, A Level, to Higher national Diploma and vocational qualifications.
So, now you have heard about Boston, how do you find it?
On the edge of the wash, situated about 18 miles west of Skegness, Boston has excellent road and rail links with the rest of the country. From the south, it can be accessedby the A15/A16 from peterborough; the A17 and A1121 from newark in the west and Kings Lynn in the east; and from the A16 from Grimsby in the north. Rail links to the East Coast Main Line, Nottingham and the Midlands are provided by the railway line that runs between Skegness and Grantham.
Locals may moan about the town (although I don't!), those who don't know much about it may wonder what it has to offer; I happen to quite like it.
Which is nice.