- For other uses, see Boston (disambiguation).
Boston Stump viewed from the market place
Boston, population 54,000 (1996), is a town on the North Sea coast of England in Lincolnshire which received its charter in 1545 and is a twin town with Laval, France. It is the main town in 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 all of England, visible in the flatlands of Lincolnshire for miles. Residents of Boston are known colloquially as "Bostonians".
A settlement in Boston is believed to date back to 654, when a Saxon monk named Botolph established a monastery on the banks of the River Witham. This story is disputed by some historians who believe the town had a different origin.
Boston was not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book; however the small settlement of Skirbeck is mentioned. Skirbeck is now considered part of Boston but the name remains as a church parish. Boston grew into a town during the 11th and 12th Century.
It was a significant port in the Middle Ages for trade with the continent of Europe. Much of Boston's trade at this time was in wool and Boston is often quoted as being "built on wool" by the locals. Apart from wool, Boston also exported salt, grain and lead. The wool industry began to decline in the 15th Century as the industry shifted to different parts of the country. Boston's wealth also declined as a result from then on.
In the 13th and 14th Century four orders of friars came to Boston, Dominicans, Franciscan, Carmelites and Augustinians. The friaries were eventually closed by King Henry VIII during his split from the Catholic church. The dining room of one of the friaries was converted into a theatre in 1965 and is now known as Blackfriars Arts Centre.
The town received its charter in 1545 from Henry VIII and Boston had 2 Members of Parliament from 1552 onwards.
In 1607 a group of Pilgrims led by William Brewster and William Bradford attempted to escape to Holland from Boston. At the time emigration was illegal and they were imprisoned in the Guildhall. Most of the pilgrims were released the following year and set sail for The Netherlands, settling in Leiden. Concerned with the morals of the time in Holland and the fact the children were being brought up in a Dutch environment they decided to move to a place better suited and set sail for the Americas on the ship Mayflower from Plymouth in 1620. These people became known as the Pilgrim Fathers.
Boston remained a hotbed of religious dissent. In 1612, John Cotton became the vicar of the Stump and although persecuted by the Church of England at the time for his non-conformist preaching he is responsible for causing a large increase in the Church's population. He encouraged members who disliked the lack of religious freedom in England to join the Massachusetts Bay Company and later helped with the foundation of 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 were drained. The land was fertile and Boston began exporting cereals to London. In 1774 the first bank was opened and in 1776 an act of parliament allowed watchmen to begin patrolling the streets at night.
During the 19th Century Boston once again became an important port when new docks were constructed in 1884. The railway came to Boston in 1848. Boston was a major railway terminal but was hit hard by the Dr Beeching cutbacks of the 1960s.
In the 20th Century Boston continued as a major port, exporting grain, fertilizer and timber. The first cinema opened in 1910 and in 1913 a new town bridge was constructed. Central Park was purchased in 1919 which 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. A large number of Bostonians fought in World War I and World War II and a war memorial exists in Wide Bargate, close to the town centre. An annual parade and service of thanksgiving is held their on Remembrance Sunday
In the 21st Century, a new shopping centre named Pescod Centre has opened bringing many new stores into the town. Further development is planned.
Boston has seen a large increase in immigrants, 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 the town was hit by rioting.
Sites of Interest
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 18th Centuries. Much of the surrounding area of Boston is farmland, since the rich soils of the Fens make this area one of the centers of the English farming industry.
The magnificent mediaeval Boston parish church, with its high tower, is known locally as the "Boston Stump". It can be seen for many miles around the town. The current church was begun in the 14th Century. Archaeological records indicate that a wooden Norman church 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. It is unusual for having only five sails.
The Guildhall, where the Pilgrim Fathers were put on trial and imprisoned, was converted into a museum in 1929. The American Room was opened by the US Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, in 1938. The Pilgrim Fathers Memorial is located in Frieston Shore a few miles outside of the town. Frieston Shore is a nature reserve and runs along the River Witham, eventually leading to the North Sea coast. It is from here that the Pilgrims made their first attempt to escape to Holland.
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 line passes directly through Boston, marked by small street named Meridian Avenue which lies approximately on this line.
- Welcome to Boston UK (http://www.bostonuk.com/), a local web portal