If you enjoy wildlife and have an interest in looking for birds and seals from the comfort of a large boat then you would probably enjoy a trip on the Boston Belle boat.
A local RSPB group had chartered the boat one Saturday morning in early October. Apparently it was the last sailing of the season apart from a Haloween trip. I'd guess the birders aboard were a much more sober lot than the next load of passengers enjoying a spooky boat ride up the Witham.
There was a commentary provided by an expert birder who pointed out many of the birds as we slowly sailed past them. We'd been fortunate because just two days before the trip there had been very strong easterly winds that had blown some of the migrating sea birds closer to the shore. We were somewhat surprised to find a Guillemot swimming up the river towards us and further downstream we were fortunate to find the scarce migrant called a Grey Phalarope.
The birds were certainly numerous and we had excellent views of most of them including the largest flock of Oystercatchers I've ever seen. Possibly up to a thousand birds all huddled up and facing into the wind.
Up the Welland river we saw several Common or Harbour Seals hauled up on the bank. They didnt seem in the least bit bothered as we puttered along past them.
The boat serves hot drinks cooked snacks such as Bacon butties and even quite a range of alcoholic drinks - probably more for the Haloween revellers.
It was an excellent trip and certainly my group enjoyed the experience. We were lucky with the weather but had it rained we could have sheltered under the hard canopy though we'd not have seen so many birds that way. In the end it didnt matter and we returned to our moorings four and a half hours later.
This is known as the grandest house in Boston. Built in 1726 for Samuel Jackson, it was purchased by the Fydell family. They were prominent business leaders and produced some of Boston's mayors. In 1938, this old house hosted the US ambassador Joseph Kennedy (you recall, he was the father of Jack Kennedy). The American Room is a reminder of that event.
The Guildhall Museum is undergoing extensive re-furbishment at the moment, and is not due to re-open until 2007 at the earliest.
Many visitors will still however be most impressed by the section that won't be re-furbished : the original courtroom and cells that the Pilgrim fathers were tried in and held.
These highlights of the museum however can sometimes be seen by appointment. Visitors wishing to do this should phone Joy on 01205 365954
The Guildhall of St Mary's guild is where the leaders of the Pilgrims were tried for attempting to leave the country without the King's permission. It also houses the cells where they were imprisoned. Built around 1450, it was the business center of the town. It now houses a local museum.
With a 272-foot tower, this is the largest parish church in England. Its real name is St Botolph's, but locals usually refer to it as the Stump. Boston was one of England's busiest ports during the Middle Ages, so this church was well-endowed. Begun in 1309, the tower was added during the 15th century. Work has continued off and on ever since.
This is the original Boston. During the Middle Ages, it was the busiest port in the east. Here the Pilgrims tried to leave England, only to be caught, tried, and imprisoned. Their leaders were tried and put into the gaol at the historic Guildhall. Boston's church, known as the Stump, is the larget parish church in England.
Boston town council has recently opened (July 2005) it's latest addition to it's very grand sounding 'cultural quarter'.
The Haven is a smallish gallery, that will host travelling exhibitions and local artists work.
It is mercifully free of a shop and cafe !
Check out the website to see if there is anything of interest to you.
The gallery was 'launched' with the Titanic exhibition - let's hope that it doesn't end up as a disaster !
Pescod Square is a 22 million pound shopping development in Boston. It is old fashioned and poorly executed.
On the plus side at the far end of the line of tatty shops lies Pescod Hall, which is a fine example of a wool merchants house, built before 1450.
To their eternal credit the local department store sympathetically re-furbished the place in 1972. More recently in order to prepare for the new shopping walk the whole building (weighing some 100 tons) was jacked up, moved about 60 meters and spun through 180 degrees.
Rather amazingly the hall still relies on its oak frame for support and wooden pegs, rather than nails or screws, hold the structure together, in keeping with original construction.
It is now used a fashion shop, hopefully still selling some garments made of wool.
The story of the move can be found in the website listed - link to news, and pescod hall
Shodfriars hall was probably a very luxurious Guild building in its day.
Despite several different uses through its life, including a spell as the theatre (see tip on Old Mother Riley) , the exterior of this Tudor building is immaculate.
Its worth taking a look at on the way to the museum (due to reopen in 2004). It is a crying shame that the building could not be included in the 'cultural quarter' and put to better use than as a snooker hall & nightclub.
If you head out of town by the river in the Lincoln direction you will come to high sluice bridge. The railway line also crosses the river here on the diagonal.
If you take the right hand side past the Marina and Witham Tavern (much improved and worth a stop for a pint) then you have a dead straight walk up to Anton's Gowt for about a mile and a half where the river bends again.
There are couple of locks here and a pub. It's a good place for a picnic and refreshment. You may see some herons and other wildlife.
The views are very much of the 'Big Sky' variety but a good photographer should be able to make something of it.
Walk back the same way.
This windmill is quite near the centre of town and still grounds flour which you can buy (organic!)
It's also a tea room nowadays although the main attraction is also seeing the windmill in action.
When my little nephew (he's 4) was taken there recently and he was fascinated. They also gave him a few grains to take home which was a nice touch.
Seems to open Wednesdays and Sundays - but give them a ring. They mill flour every day if it is possible.
Markets are an essential part of life in Lincolnshire. The One in Boston has a good range of local stalls, not to mention local characters.
Don't arrive late though as it is all pretty much finished by 4PM
It takes place in the central town square area which strongly resembles a Dutch of Belgian Grote - Markt, due to the Dutch Influence in the Gabeling of the surrounding buildings.
There is also a farmers market / Auction on Wednesdays in Wide Bargate.
This monument is not a great deal to look at but the walk out by the river is quite bracing and it has a small park around it - nice for a picnic.
If you like to pick up the historical connections to the USA then it's a must see.
The more impressive place of the cell they put some of the pilgrim fathers in will reopen next year (2004).
THE HISTORICAL BIT :
Pilgrim Fathers Memorial
The memorial, erected in 1957, is to be found about 4 miles out of Boston at Scotia Creek, Fishtoft. It marks the place, where in 1607, the group of puritans, who were to become known as the Pilgrim Fathers, were arrested attempting to flee to the religious freedom of the low countries. The ringleaders were subsequently tried and imprisoned in the Guildhall. Eventually allowed to leave they settled in Holland before travelling on to the New World.
The Church in the middle of Boston is one of the most impressive churches in England.
It's actually the biggest church (excepting Cathedrals) but not the tallest.
It's main tower is however very impressive and viewable from miles around because of the flat fen ground all around. For this reason it has the nickname of "The Stump".
You can pay to climb up it - and it is well worth the climb.
Interestingly it is said that when the Queen visited here once she claimed "Oh yes, I can see it from my house" - I presume from Sandringham right across The Wash.
(NB The Wash is the name of the piece of sea between Norfolk and Lincolnshire where it is said King John lost the crown jewels)
For those of you from the USA, it might be nice to go to the memorial on the spot where the pilgrims were arrested. After a while in prison, they were finally allowed to leave for the Netherlands and then made it across the Atlantic.