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St. Botolphs Church Also known as The Boston Stump



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  • The church is built on the site of a monastery founded by St Bololph in 654. The status of Boston grew dramatically until the reformation with the town containing no less than 4 other monasteries, and made incredibly rich by the wool trade which plied its way between England and Flanders.
  • Work began on the existing church in 1309 and it was completed by 1390, a relatively short amount of time for such a large medieval church. The tower began in about 1425-1430 and was only completed between 1510 and 1520.
  • The nickname "the Boston Stump" is believed to come from the suggestion that the tower was originally intended to be topped by a spire but that the Pilgrimage of Grace put pay to this. This belief in a further tower extension is added to by the fact the top level of the tower has flying buttresses which are completely superfluous, so were presumably built with the intention of providing structural support to something else on top that was never completed.
  • There is also speculation that the tower was used as a lighthouse for the port of Boston, but there is no actual evidence the lantern tower ever contained a lantern.
  • The Boston Stump contains the tallest parish church tower in the world to roof at 83m. The nave is 74m long and 32m wide, larger than many cathedrals. Until the 20th century saw the two Liverpool Cathedrals and the National Cathedral in Washington built this was the tallest church in the world to roof (not spire). It was also the holder of the record of the tallest building to roof (not spire) in the world until the mid 19th century.
  • The tower is open to visitors who can climb 209 stairs to approximately two thirds of the total height of it. Blasphemous graffiti using satanic crosses from as early as 1731 is still visible today. The top part of the tower however, is closed to visitors without special permission for access.
  • Many of the stained glass windows around the porch and site of the Charnel House were damaged by rioting puritans in 1612, hence their obvious more modern replacements.
  • These religious problems reached the point that many puritans left the town. One local puritan priest, John Cotton, was among those who sailed to Boston, Mass. and was instrumental in the founding and naming of the city after his home town.


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Building Location

1 Wormgate, Boston. PE21
Borough of Boston
East Midlands
United Kingdom

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Building Specification

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Heritage Status
Grade I

Roof Height (AGL)

Market Data

Primary Use
Place of Worship
Secondary Use
Observation Tower

Floorspace (sq m)

Metres > Feet