Where East meets West – Part 12 – Spalding

I’m nearing the edge of Lincolnshire now – and was thinking that Spalding would be the furthest point on my journey South down the Meridian Line.

I still have to re-shoot some of the places I’ve visited already, as I’d like to get some more sunshine into the pictures.  Also, I want to visit Greenwich, as this seems to be the place where it should end……

However….. yesterday we visited Spalding…. for the first time ever… so what is Spalding – what does the place name mean?

It’s both English and Scottish: a habitational name from a place in Lincolnshire, so called from the Old English tribal name Spaldingas ‘people of the district called Spald’. The district name probably means ‘ditches’, referring to the drainage channels in the fenland.

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The river Welland runs through the middle of the town, and it was at one time, the town was well known for the annual Spalding Flower Parade, held from 1959 to 2013. The parade celebrated the region’s vast tulip production and the cultural links between the Fens and the landscape and people of South Holland (the clue is in the name)…

Archeological excavations at Wygate Park in Spalding have shown that there has been occupation in this area from at least the Roman period, when this part of Lincolnshire was used for the production of salt. It was a coastal siltland.   At Wygate Park salt making seems to have come to an end by the mid-3rd century AD; climatic change and flooding may have made such activities difficult, causing the practice to die out.

The river was well used, and boats carrying all kinds of produce was moved up and down and out to the sea.  You can see the merchants houses still, though some have had major conversions on them.

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We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, so we moved a little further north to visit a memorial we had seen signed on a previous visit.  This was to the Pilgrim Fathers, just outside Boston.

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During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Protestant non-conformist religious beliefs flourished in England. One such belief was that of the Separatists, a group of Puritans with strong Lincolnshire links – Gainsborough was at the heart of the Lincolnshire Separatist movement, and another group was based just over the border at Scrooby in Nottinghamshire.

Separatists wanted the freedom to worship God away from the constraints of the Church of England. When Elizabeth was succeeded by King James I, there was a clampdown on such groups, it became illegal not to attend church and the Separatist Movement was banned in 1604.

Wanting to escape persecution, The Separatists decided to flee to The Netherlands, a far more tolerant Protestant country. In 1607, both the Gainsborough Separatists and the Scrooby Separatists travelled to Boston where boats were waiting to take them to Holland.

The Gainsborough Separatists successfully completed their journey and joined other English Separatists known as the Ancient Brethren in Leiden.

Unfortunately, The Scrooby Separatists were betrayed by their boat’s captain. Shortly after setting sail, they were intercepted at Scotia Creek (where this memorial stands),  a few miles down river from Boston.  They were arrested and all their goods seized.

The Scrooby Separatists were brought to Boston Guildhall where they remained in the cells whilst awaiting trial at Lincoln. After several months in prison, they were released and returned home to Scrooby penniless. Sympathisers eventually raised enough money to fund a second escape attempt, which this time was successful.

After living peacefully in Leiden for several years, the Ancient Brethren decided to sail for America in search of a better life in 1620. They hired two ships, the Speedwell, which was to transport passengers, and the larger Mayflower, which was to carry supplies, for this very hazardous journey across the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, the Speedwell started to take in water off the coast of Devon and it became obvious that the ship would be incapable of crossing the Atlantic. The passengers transferred to the Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth on 6th September 1620 and landed in Massachusetts after an arduous two month voyage.

This small group of people became known as The Pilgrim Fathers, the founding fathers of America.

In the 1630s, another group of Lincolnshire Puritans left Boston for America. They founded a new settlement in Massachusetts and named it after their home town – Boston.

One of the most important of these settlers was The Reverend John Cotton, who was the very controversial Vicar of St. Botolphs’ Church in Boston. The Reverend Cotton made many enemies by preaching his non-conformist views and regularly found himself prosecuted at Lincoln’s Law Courts. In 1633, he sailed across the Atlantic to Boston, Massachusetts, and soon became spiritual leader of this church-dominated state.  His influence increased further when he helped to draft the fundamental laws for the colony that are still applicable today.

You are able to walk further along – past the memorial, and views of the Boston Stump can be seen on the horizon…

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A pillbox from WW2 still marks part of the estuary

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For the time being, this is where my Lincolnshire journey will end, but I think there will be a further post about Spalding.  We visited the parish church which is beautiful, and also the Alms houses there.

I shall revisit some of the places, and research some more, before finally completing the talk that will go with this exploration.

In the meantime… enjoy…

 

Boston – Where East Meets West – part 8

Boston and the Maud Foster Mill

According to legend, Boston is named after St Boltoph. It is said he came to the area in the 7th Century, and built a monastery and church next to an existing settlement. The settlement was renamed St Boltoph’s Tun (Town) and contracted to Boston.

Boston was not named in Domesday of 1086, but probably grew into a town in the 11th or 12th Century. At that time, international trade was booming, and Boston was well situated to trade with Europe, and became a busy port. It became a focal point for the villages around Lincolnshire, and slowly grew as the population expanded.

Once the church and tower (known locally as the “Stump”, was completed in the 15th to 16th Century it was a local landmark and used by sailors to find their way to the coast, and the town.

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It was the wool trade that made Boston important – and with a Royal Charter to hold a market – it became the place to see, and be seen.

The wool trade had almost stopped by 1500, but Boston continued to be an important trading town, with the import of spices and other goods.

In the mid 16th Century, work was started on the Maud Foster Drain.  Why this drain has this name is not entirely clear.

In History and Antiquities of Boston, Pishey Thompson states (p201) “Maud Foster herself  has ceased to be a myth, for we find frequent mention of her in the Corporation Records. But we cannot connect this person with the Drain, so as to discover any reason why it should bear her name. Tradition asserts, that Maud Foster was the owner of the land through which the new cut would pass, and that she gaved consent to its passage on very favourable conditions, one of which was that it should bear her name. Our readers must take this tradition for what it is worth, as we cannot strengthen it by any facts.”

The Mill was not built till 1819.

When we visited the windmill in February of this year – there was some construction work going on in front of it, but the current miller was talkative, and I was able to purchase some of the flour, ground there.  He sells a good variety, and I purchased both seed and plain strong bread flour – since made into a loaf.  You can also purchase porridge oats.

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I appreciate that there has been quite a jump from the last location to this one – and I intend to fill in the gaps as time goes on.

On the same day that we visited Boston, we also went to East Kirby Airfield, which houses not only the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’, but a stone which deliniates the East West Meridian.

I think that East Kirby deserves a post all to itself, but I think I need a return visit for more photographs.