About Boston Preservation Trust

In 1935, the fate of Fydell House in South Street was in the balance. A Birmingham consortium were planning to demolish it in favour of a housing development. The loss of the “Grandest House in Town” so alarmed the Vicar of Boston, Canon A.M Cook and other concerned activists, that they launched an appeal to buy it. The outcome not only resulted in The House being saved, but in the creation of The Boston Preservation Trust, a limited company, whose aim to save other historic buildings in the town and bring them back into meaningful use continues to this day.

From research into The House’s origins by A.A Garner, it has been established that it was probably built around 1700 for the Jackson family, who had bought the land behind the site of The House for £20 from Boston Corporation. This land had been owned by the Corporation since 1554 and had been horticultural land attached to St Mary’s Guildhall.

The Jacksons were Mercers: dealers in textiles, silks, velvets and other expensive cloths. Prominent in Boston, one of the family, Edmund, had been Mayor of Boston in 1668 and 1678 but the decline of the cloth trade eventually led to The House being sold. The House then passed to Joseph Fydell. The ownership of such a fine house immediately raised his social standing although ultimately it proved to be an expensive investment.

Fydell House was thus given its name by Joseph Fydell (1687 – 1731), a merchant who could trace his associations with Boston back to William Fydell, an apprentice to Alderman Thomas Marcall back in 1676. Joseph began to establish himself as one of Boston’s more successful merchants around 1717 when he added to his warehouses a yard in Spain Lane. In 1726 when The House owned by Samuel Jackson became available, Joseph quickly made the purchase, and in work carried out following his acquisition had the date and his initials embossed on the lead work. The Fydells were granted a coat of arms in the same year. This used a pun on the surname “Esto Fidelis usque ad finem” (always be faithful and just).

Joseph Fydell only survived until 1731 and was buried at Freiston. He never married. Financial troubles had caught up with him and his executor John Browne had to pay off debts, probably with money from Robert Fydell, to whom with his son Richard, the property was transferred in 1733.

The House then passed on through several generations, including Robert who almost lost it when he was declared bankrupt in 1738 and his son Richard, a wine merchant (1710-1780), who served as Boston’s MP and three times Mayor of Boston from 1734-54. He was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College Cambridge. After Richard died, his widow Elizabeth (nee Hall), to whom he was married in 1740, lived on in the house until 1783, after which the eldest son, Thomas (1740-1812), was increasingly in residence though he also had many other interests in Chepstow and Gloucestershire.

His business expanded to include banking, property and livestock. Gysor’s hall, opposite Fydell House, was leased first by Richard Fydell and later bought from the corporation by his son Thomas for wine storage etc. Eventually Thomas demolished and rebuilt Gysor’s Hall re-using some of the stone which cans still be seen. Richard also owned nearby various stables, granary, outhouses, counting-house, vaults, a scalding yard and coopery.

At about the time of Joseph’s acquisition in 1726, the garden was walled along the Beadsman’s Lane boundary. This lane, which runs between Fydell House and the Guildhall, has at different times been called Townshall or Beadsmans Lane and Guildhall Lane.

To the rear, part of the garden and pasture were once owned by the Greyfriars Monastery, extending to the Maud Foster drain and including a ropewalk and fishponds.

It was here that plain Mr Joseph Banks visited Richard Fydell when they were involved in the Witham drainage scheme and with the plans for the Grand Sluice, and the proposals for the fen enclosure. When Sir Joseph later became recorder for Boston in 1809, Thomas Junior, son of Thomas Senior became his deputy.

Fydell House remained the family home until 1816 when it was leased to tenants. These included Henry Rogers, a solicitor and Lord of the Manor of Freiston and Butterwick. In 1831 a mob broke some windows in Fydell House while rioting over the Reform Act. Francis Yeatman was a wine merchant whose skill as a gardener meant that the garden at the rear of The House was acclaimed to be “the finest garden in the borough”. He lived in The House from 1844-66. His widow, Caroline, continued as a tenant from 1866-75 with 8 children and 5 servants.

She was followed by Mrs Jane Collins, widow of the vicar of Freiston, from 1875-85. Then Samuel Waddington from 1890-1905. He was a trader, president of the Liberal Club, Alderman and Mayor. Tom Kitwood followed from 1906-23, then Fred Miller, a Customs Officer and artist who lived there from 1926-35.

Since its purchase from the Fydell-Rowley family in 1925 for £1600 by The Boston Preservation Trust, Fydell House has served a number of uses, including being the base for the WVS during WW2. Stencilled messages for bomb raid assembly in the cellars can still be found today. The roof and second floor were extensively damaged by a fire bomb in April 1941, but no-one was hurt. Miss Phoebe Rennell was the resident caretaker at that time.

Fydell House has also helped strengthen Boston’s connection with the United states on a number of occasions, most notably with US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, father of President JF Kennedy, whose visit to Boston in 1938 included Fydell House where he dedicated the American Room.

From 1946-2003, The House and some of the buildings in Spain Court were occupied as an outpost of Nottingham University, providing adult education alongside the Workers’ Education Association. The residential flat on the second floor was, throughout this period, occupied by successive Wardens of Pilgrim College, as it was known.

Close to Fydell House are smaller noteworthy grade 2 listed buildings which provide income for The Trust. The member ship, volunteers and trustees have recently set themselves afresh to providing a well maintained, beautiful and relevant building which can be used as a community asset and as a place for lectures and events or for interest groups to meet. A place where Boston’s history can be displayed and explained, with a tranquil walled garden of outstanding merit which can be shared with others as a place for enjoyment and celebrations.

Sir Nikolas Pevsner commented that “few buildings in the area show the ‘swagger’ of Fydell House in Boston”

(many details from Brenda Lane and others)

Join BPT

Membership of Boston Preservation Trust (BPT)

We are always looking for new members.   As a member you would be adding a little financial support to our charitable aims, and gaining influence over the way the Trust works and in the activities of the Trust.   The covid emergency has had a temporary dampening effect on many of the things which normally happen in Fydell House, but this is now recovering as we look forward to seeing members again in greater numbers. 

 We will be returning to our programme of activities which include lectures, historical tours, field trips and visits to local places of interest.   Members enjoy reduced entrance fees for much of this.   We also look to our membership for their input into the Annual General Meeting of the Trust, at which the business is approved and trustees are elected.

We welcome any interested person,  but would especially like to recruit younger people and new arrivals in the town.   It is one of our aims to involve more people who haven’t until now considered Fydell House to be a local asset or who haven’t been involved with us before.   Please come in and see us if you want to know more, or e-mail us on manager@fydellhouse.org.uk

We are also eager to welcome new volunteers for as many or as few hours as can be spent. There are several roles within the volunteer group.   Training will be provided where necessary, and health and safety and the wellbeing of our volunteers is very much in mind. Volunteers can help with the running of the office, or in the kitchen or catering operation, or with explaining the history and the building to visitors, or meeting and greeting, or with wedding and events in the house, or in the garden.   Details and role descriptions are available at the same e-mail address, or from the office at Fydell House.   Our phone number is 01205 351520.

The aims of Boston Preservation Trust (BPT) are to improve and protect the architectural heritage of the town and local area.  Fydell House is the central focus of our efforts, both the building and the uses to which it is put.   The house is a community asset and is used for events of all kinds, weddings, exhibitions, displays, room hire for interest groups, and as a base for small businesses.   We aim to improve the wellbeing of our users, and welcome volunteers who may be looking for a purpose or just a period of support or adjustment.   Without our volunteers, we could not exist.

BPT also has a Civic Group which carries a wider remit of observing, documenting, rewarding and commenting on aspects of the local area relating to our heritage, architecture or local environment.  Planning applications are inspected and comments are agreed for submission to the planners. You are very welcome to join this. The trust also involves itself with Blue Plaques to identify notable buildings or inhabitants.

We are supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

If you would like to become a member of Boston Preservation Trust you can do it by contacting the Operations Manager at Fydell House on 01205 351520.  Or by e-mail on manager@fydellhouse.org.uk  giving the following information-:

Your name………………………………………………………………………………….

Your address, including postcode……………………………………………….

Your phone number……………………………………………………………………

Your e-mail address…………………………………………………………………..  

You will be asked to sign our standard form giving permission to store your e-mail address securely on our database and to use your data to inform you about trust events but not for other purposes.

Subscriptions

Annual membership………………………….£10.00 payable on joining and once a year on January 1st.

Life membership……………………………….£150.00

Junior membership……………………………£1.00

Couple life membership…………………….£200.00

Please return this information by e-mail to the e-mail address above or by post to Operations Manager, Boston Preservation Trust,  Fydell House,  South Street, PE21 6HT or contact us for our bank details to make payment by standing order or BACS.

HF Bid

Our bid for National Lottery Heritage Fund Support.

Early in 2019 we made a successful bid to the Fund for a ‘Resilient Grant’ to prepare the way for a bigger bid when we had a clearer idea of the needs of Fydell House.

The initial Resilient Grant from the Heritage Fund was for £10,000, which was added to later by grants and promises from generous donors, including the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Aslackby Trust, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust, the Ancaster Trust and the Medlock Trust.

This has paid for a full condition survey of Fydell House, and to prepare the Trust for planning and carrying through a major restoration project over a period of years.

We also prepared a ‘Conservation Management Plan’ and strengthened the skills of the board by a programme of training. Together with Heritage for Lincolnshire we also prepared a paper detailing the ‘Options Appraisal’ for the future of BPT and Fydell House.

The aim of all this is to prepare for a major restoration project and to be aware the difficulties including the need to plan for the long term upkeep of the building beyond the terms of the Heritage Grant. We have also had to be clear about the future purpose of Fydell House and how it can best survive the years to come.

We have set out detailed plans which will maintain Fydell House for future generations as a Community Asset.   The rooms will be available for use by interest groups of many kinds; there will be spaces for exhibitions, Art demonstration, music, and celebration of events.   There will be a café facility, and a retail outlet for relevant items.  There will be opportunities for volunteering and training inside the house and in the garden.  We will seek to improve the wellbeing of those who wish to use Fydell House.   We will provide tours and explanation of Fydell House, with special efforts to make this inviting for groups of schoolchildren.  We will seek to attract a wider range of people to use the building and enjoy its history.   The building has had a wedding license for many years and will build on this, using the garden when desired, and in collaboration with the Guildhall.

It is also our aim to increase the usefulness and opening hours of The House by improved thermal efficiency, using the most ecologically aware methods possible within a Grade 1 listed building. Improved access is also a priority of us.

Even though some of this has been delayed by Covid, we have been able to present the National Heritage Lottery Fund with a clear picture of what needs to be done backed up with evidence, and to show that we have a competent and committed team of people to see it through.

We are working within a unique and treasured building in Boston. Fydell House has ambitions. But these will be thwarted unless we can renovate the building including insulating and heating it, and make it an even more useful and relevant asset for the long term.

Our bid to the NLHF has been successful. The size of the grant will be conditional upon satisfying the conditions but we will soon enter the ‘Development Phase’, to be followed by the ‘Delivery Phase’. This will provide around £700,000 over the next few years provided we stick to our task in partnership with our benefactors.

Without the support of the Heritage Fund and others, places like Fydell House would gradually disappear, but we now have a solid and credible plan for the future, backed by the necessary funding.

Civic Group

The Civic Group of Boston Preservation Trust was established to protect and promote high standards of planning, civic amenity, and architecture in the Borough of Boston.

Particular attention is given to ensuring that Boston’s amazing heritage is preserved and nurtured for the benefit of its citizens, tourists, and future generations.

We promote civic pride in Boston and regularly identify special examples of best practice which are acknowledged by the award of a “Certificate of Excellence”. The Annual Awards Reception and Ceremony recognizes the best examples with the “Pride of Boston Winners Shield”.

The Civic Group co-operates with the Council’s planning department by discussion, comment and recommendations on individual planning applications endeavouring to ensure best practice and consistent standards relating to heritage.

The Civic Group meets at 2pm on the second Monday of each month at Fydell House and new members are always welcome to work with us. Please contact us to discuss if you are interested in helping.