Continuation of our exploration of the Fens.
Our next destination is Boston, near the mouth of the River Witham, and in the Middle Ages a major port of England, related to the wool trade.
Our main target is the church of St Botolph, commonly referred to as Boston Stump. This is one of the great churches of England, almost cathedral sized, funded during Boston’s glory days, made rich through export of wool and membership of the Hanseatic League. What a magnificent building it is! And the dog was welcome to enter with us.
I recall from childhood that we could see the tower of Boston Stump from the top of the central tower of Lincoln Cathedral, but we never actually went there. Boston did not have a great reputation. Today, the prosperity of Boston’s heyday is long gone, and the economy of the area appears quite depressed to us visitors.
I visit the dog-free 14C Guildhall, well preserved and containing a rather haphazard museum, with display boards outlining some of the key events in Boston’s history, particularly the role of local people in the nonconformist/ puritan movements, the emigration of those who became the Pilgrim Fathers, and the founding of the US city of Boston. 1 in 10 Bostonians emigrated to help form the new city of Boston, Massachusets.
Boyce’s book has a theme that Fen drainage was a colonisation project similar to what happened in Tasmania. It became clear here that the Fens were being colonised at around the same time as the Americas. This was the spirit of those times.
Not mentioned is Boston’s role in leading resistance to the drainage of fens in this area, described in Boyce’s book – such that the process was actually reversed. Drainage channels were destroyed and the process delayed for 100 years. Boston people resisted the trends in the rest of the Fens – a bloody mindedness that maybe continues to this day, as the area was significant contributer to the majority in the recent Brexit vote.