Information about exhibitions at Boston Guildhall Museum
Permanent and Temporary Exhibitions
The stunning medieval Boston Guildhall, shares stories from the past and is able to be explored as one of the finest visitor attractions in the town.
The current display of Permanent Exhibitions shares stories from the time that the building was built by the Gild of St Mary through to the towns links with the Pilgrims and our American Connections.
Discover the history of the Gild, view their Inventory of belongings and learn more about the Beadsmen who would pray for them to lessen their time in purgatory. Stand in the cells that held people awaiting the quarter sessions in the court room above and explore the kitchens that once served the town as a British Restaurant here in Boston Guildhall.
With architecture dating from medieval times when the building was built, including the tracery window in the Banqueting Hall and the beautiful linen fold cupboard in the council chamber, through to the Georgian style decor and panelling, the history and changes of the towns wealth through history can be seen reflected in the changes of the building and it's uses.
Learn about the Guildsmen and their wealth, their fear of time in purgatory and the Beadsmen who prayed for their souls whilst they paid their gold Nobel membership, celebrated the saints and feasted on spectacular foods! Our sandpit boxes in the chapel are fun for the future archaeologists of our time to make great discoveries as they look for hidden treasures!
As the dedicated Beadsmen prayed for the members sins, the Guildsmen and women would be in this great hall participating in feasting and celebration. However, it hasn't only been the Guildsmen who have eaten here; civic occasions and during the war when the Guildhall was a British Restaurant, have meant that food and alcohol, cakes and tea have been enjoyed throughout the years... . The tracery window at the front of the room shares the original glass work and although the boom of the Georgian times influenced the decor of the building, this beautiful piece of work still remains. The windows along the side of the room - big bay windows with their window shutters - and the panelling along the walls - demonstrate the wealth and fashion of Boston during the re surge of wealth during the Georgian period. As you explore through the building other legacy's of this time can be found architecturally.
Today the Banqueting Hall is a wonderful space available for weddings and meetings, conferences and workshops and is often the location for our own events and private hire.
As an assizes court for the petty crimes of Boston this room has witnessed many a trial - from theft to women talking too much, but the most famous trial is that of the Pilgrims in 1607. View 'The Actes and Monuments' book written by John Foxe and known more commonly as the Foxes Book of Martyrs. It shares the 16th century Reformation, and the suffering of Protestants under the Catholic Church. The Court Room also shares a letter kindly on loan from the Lincolnshire Archives written by Edward Winslow and the start of our new exhibitions.
The Georgian decor and the court room setting also shares a painting of John Wesley Preaching on his Fathers Tomb at Epworth.
Our new exhibitions continue into the Council Chamber and the link between the Pilgrims and the Cotton Congregation are explored through a town draper, Leonard Beetson. View two original documents on loan from the Lincolnshire Archives, the inventory of the Gild of St Mary and the document of the Corporation of Boston. Some of the major decisions for Boston were made in this very room during the time it was the actual Council Chamber for Boston. The portrait of Sir Joseph Banks was commissioned by the council in recognition of his work and his role as in the honorary position as Recorder for the town of Boston. Although he originates from Reversby, 10 miles approximately outside of Boston towards Horncastle, he was still involved with the town and the local fenlands.
This room again shares the style of the Georgian era - look at the doorways, the bay windows and the fireplace, the cornices and the decoration of the room. There is still the historic linen fold cupboard wood work which they chose to retain during the "refit", and rather than remove these beautiful doors they covered them over with the larger doors of the Georgian design.
This room exposes the structure of the roof and you can see first hand how alterations have impacted the building. The chimney from the kitchen fire runs up the back wall, when the support beam was removed the outer wall bowed and a new support beam was quickly added! Our displays here talk about the trade of Boston, the Hanseatic League and how the fortunes of the town were won and lost! Find out how and why the waterways and sea had such an important influence on the town and smell the wines and spices that would have passed through the port of Boston!
With a small staircase for service staff to use, the kitchen is a beautiful open space. With stoves and fires throughout, a sample of the previous herringbone brick flooring exposed to the side of the stoves, beams with evidence of a previous lath and plaster finish, a stone sink - this room a perfect opportunity to find out more about the food and the dishes cooked here and eaten in the Banqueting Hall.
The Kitchen showcases share items from our own collections that share our history with America including a model of the Mayflower ship kindly on loan from Nick Thompson and family of Boston, Lincolnshire.
For those of you who enjoy dressing up, there is also the chance to experience being a Beadsman and a Guildsmen...
Find out more about the Pilgrim Fathers and their time in Boston. Listen to the diary account of William Bradford as he recalls their experience of being held here and experience the cells as the Pilgrims did as you step into the small cramped space and the iron door closes behind you.... Cannons purchased by the corporation and the penultimate dingy built by the Keightley boat builders are on also on display here. See the stairs from the cells reaching up in a tightly turning staircase to the council chamber.
As you pass the cells we share more of our own collections and stories of the Pilgrims, including a plaque kindly on loan from the Spalding Gentleman's Society at Spalding.
Tourist Information Centre
After wandering through the magnificent building you now find yourself back in the chapel area where the Tourist Information Centre offers information about other local attractions and a offers a collection of souvenirs and historic books.
We welcome feedback through TripAdvisor or through our social media Facebook page Boston Guildhall Museum. If you would like to complete one of feedback postcards whilst on site, these can be found in the kitchen area.