Sunday, 6 October 2013

Look and learn.

This edited article about the British town of Boston originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 920 published on 8 September 1979. 

One of the biggest cities on the East Coast of the United States is the port of Boston. But, like so many place names in the United States, Boston takes its name from a town in England.

England’s Boston is a small town situated a short distance away from the sea in the county of Lincolnshire. From here came some of the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed in the Mayflower. Today their American descendants still return to gaze in awe at this ancient town, where the only “skyscraper” to be seen is the Boston “Stump”.
This rather inappropriate name is the local term for one of the most famous landmarks in the whole county – the soaring, lantern tower of Boston’s medieval cathedral. From the top, you can see as far as Lincoln, fifty kilometres away. The summit is visible from more than a third of the county and is a useful landmark for ships at sea as well.
The money to pay for this magnificent cathedral came from the wool trade with the Continent, particularly with Belgium and Holland. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Boston was second only to London in the volume of trade it handled each year.
Over the following centuries, however, the importance of the wool trade declined, and with it went Boston’s prosperity.
Today, Boston is still an important town – several agricultural markets and fairs are held here each year – but it has been sadly left behind by its bigger, brasher offspring in the United States.


  1. Not bad for an American article. I'm not sure about calling St Botolph's a cathedral (other than metaphorically). I never have a problem with the tower explaining why the tower is called "the Stump". One way of looking at it is as being ironic (some American's can't get irony). The other possibility it the belief that it was intended to have a spire, which really would have soared into the sky, and that "stump" was a description, maybe pejorative, of the tower as it is.

    I live near Bristol. Did you know that the tower of the main university building (Wills Memorial Tower, after the Wills tobacco company or rather a member of the family who financed its building) is often thought to have been designed based on the top section of the Stump? The architect denied it, but I'm not so sure.

    Wills Memorial Tower

  2. I remember Look and Learn. It was the only "comic" my mum would let me have on the basis that it would be educational. But my granddad came to the rescue by ordering The Eagle, with Dan Dare, which we used to read together.

  3. I was wondering why Billy hadn't posted anything here for a while, then I discovered on Facebook that he sadly died on 23 October 2013. He has left behind a great resource for anyone interested in Boston and its history.

  4. Oh god that's dreadful news, RIP Billy and yes I totally agree he's left behind an amazing archive that should be preserved for years to come.

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