I was born in Boston and as my birthplace tends to get a rough ride in the press, I felt it was time to stick up for the old town. So here are ten “fascinating” facts about Boston.
1. Long before they set sail on the Mayflower, the Pilgrim Fathers made an abortive attempt to leave England from Boston. Therefore, my home town is famous for people leaving it.
2. The Pilgrim Fathers probably kept quiet about their stay in Boston because they spent most of it banged up in the town gaol. They were arrested for attempting to leave England without the permission of the king. It was a case of three strikes and you’re in (the Nick).
3. Boston is named after the Anglo-Saxon saint Botolph (or Botulf). It was originally called ‘Saint Botolph’s Town’. St Botolph fought against spirits from the underworld. A monk and an exorcist, he purged demons from the surrounding marshes.
4.The main church in the town is officially known as St Botolph’s Church, although everybody calls it ‘The Stump’. It is the tallest Medieval Parish Church in England. With 365 steps to the top, you can see the surrounding Fens for miles around. There are also Masonic symbols scoured into the stairwell. Make of that what you will.
5. After that hoo-hah with his fellow poet Arthur Rimbaud, the French author Paul Verlaine fled to Boston where he worked as a French teacher. You can see their story in the film Total Eclipse, which contains many scenes of gratuitous nudity, but none featuring Lincolnshire.
6. For many years Boston held the title of most obese town in England with over a third of the population morbidly overweight. We have now sadly lost our title to Copeland in Cumbria.
7. The town’s most famous son is the Protestant writer and theologian John Foxe, who wrote Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
8. People in Boston and around the county will call you ‘duck’ as a term of endearment. Do not be alarmed. This is considered normal.
9. Boston was a member of the Hanseatic League. The League was a late medieval federation of merchant guilds who bonded together to protect their trade. Based in Germany, the Guild’s German name ‘Hansa’ lives on in organisations like Lufthansa, the national airline (Luft means air in German).
10. There is another Boston in the United States. It’s in Massachusetts, apparently.