About Boston Preservation Trust
Fydell House is Grade 1 listed and was recognised by Pevsner as “The grandest House in town”. It stands on the east side of South Square, within 150 yards of the Market Place and the centre of the town. Next door is an exceptional 15th Century building, the Guildhall, which houses a museum and former gaol with strong links with the first attempt by the Pilgrim Fathers and other migrants to leave England for the New World in 1620. Nearby is a converted 13th Century Dominican monastery, which now houses Blackfriars Arts and Theatre Centre. Across the road is a converted 17th Century quayside warehouse housing a Music Centre and educational facilities for Boston College. Within 100 yards is ‘Shodfriars Hall’, a building with mediaeval origins later much changed by the Victorian addition of a theatre. Fydell House therefore occupies part of a compact part of the town which is becoming known by the descriptor “the Cultural Quarter”. There are good connections between these heritage neighbours which will be the basis for greater co-operation in the future.
The Trust was founded in 1935 when the future of the house hung in the balance. Fydell House was under threat of demolition to make way for an access road to a new building estate. The house itself was built in 1702 and was occupied by prominent local merchants and politicians of the family Fydell for about 90 years. Sir Joseph Banks was a frequent visitor when sitting as a Recorder for Boston in the Guildhall next door.
The house was then let to successive families for many years and was fire damaged in 1940 during WWII. From 1946 until 2003 Fydell House was occupied as an outpost of Nottingham University, providing Adult Education together with the Workers Education Association. The Warden lived above the building, and the University paid rent to the Trust which maintained the status quo. For a time after the withdrawal of the University the building was let to a limited company (“Fydell House Centre Ltd”), which for some years sub-let the rooms for various functions including education. That company went into voluntary liquidation in 2015, at which point direct management of the building reverted to Boston Preservation Trust.
There is a unique and extensive walled garden at the rear, accessed through the house or through a side gate from a footpath between the garden and the Guildhall. The garden, which has received an RHS award, is maintained by volunteers, and is used for events with or without a marquee, and as an open-air part of our café operation. The garden received the top award from East Midlands in Bloom 2018 for the efforts of the volunteers.
The Trust is a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee and derives its income mainly from activities within Fydell House and from nearby Grade 2 listed properties. In recent years much improvement has been made to the rental properties which has enhanced the income of the trust, but there is still a lot to be done. The house itself is sound, but is in need of work to safeguard its future and to upgrade in several important areas. There are 3 lavatories, all of which require modernisation. The house is cold in the winter when the current gas-fired heating is wholly inadequate. The electric wiring requires a condition survey and replacement where necessary. The interior as a whole is in need of repair and redecoration. Some of the fabric of the wall covering and ceiling in the main stairwell is friable and at risk and requires considerable work. There are defects in the exterior stonework and issues relating to flooding in the cellar. Many of the features are, however, original, unique and in good condition.
There is a garden of good quality to the rear, with careful planting and a well-maintained wall. This is used to enhance events in the house. Access to the rear garden is through the Garden Room or the kitchen, or through the garden gates to the rear, or along a path to the South side. The garden was redesigned in 1995 and laid out to echo the historical links with Sir Joseph Banks.
BPT also owns 14 rental properties, all of them Grade 2 listed. These are mainly let to residential tenants. 10 of these properties have been fully upgraded in recent years. One is unoccupied and about to undergo restoration. The rent from these properties produced £85,000 in 2019 and is the backbone of the financial health of the Trust.
The Trust currently has two directly paid employees, our Operations Manager and our receptionist & booking administrator. The trust is run by a board of trustee directors. The trustees number 9 at present and come from a mixture of backgrounds including estate agency and surveying, teaching, medicine, local government, historical authorship, accountancy and management. The Trust has done work to modernise its governance over the past 4 years , and the trustees have also developed, consulted upon and adopted a strategy document: ‘A way forward’ (2018). Other recent work has included a ‘Conservation Management Plan’, and ‘Options Appraisal’ (2020), and a prolonged period of board training and development.
The board delegates responsibilities to committees. These include property, finance and compliance. Other committees take responsibility for an educational and events programme, for the running of Fydell House, for our ambition to receive a grant from the NLHF, and for our Civic Group activities in the wider Boston community. An audit of needs was commissioned in 2018 from Heritage Lincolnshire. This highlighted priorities which the trust has taken forward. We are also developing a co-operative working relationship with our closest heritage neighbours in the Cultural Quarter of Boston. Much of this has been to prepare us for a bid to the Heritage Fund, details of which are given in the website section on ‘HF bid’.
BPT has a slowly growing membership approaching 100. They are mainly retired people. There is a group of about twelve volunteers with varying roles. The garden volunteers are a cohesive and effective group. Other volunteers support the opening hours of the house, provide limited catering for small functions, undertake cleaning, provide guided tours, support the office and basic financial functions, support the weddings business, support the security of the building, and provide a diarising function. We are always looking for ways to increase volunteer support.
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 email@example.com
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org giving the following information-:
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.
Annual membership………………………….£10.00 payable on joining and once a year on January 1st.
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.
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 Resilient Grant was for £10,000, to which we have now added £5000 following an appeal to donors who have most generously contributed, including the Aslackby Trust, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust and the Ancaster 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.
The problems highlighted by the survey led to the creation by the trustees and volunteers of a ‘Conservation Management Plan’, with the help of Heritage Lincolnshire. The trustees and the volunteers have also gone through an exercise to understand where their individual strengths lie, and to remedy any important gaps with training. The trustees have undergone a board training programme throughout the lockdown period which continues. And we have also undertaken a review of the Options for the future of Fydell House (our ‘Options Appraisal’).
The aim of all this is to prepare everyone to deal with a major restoration project and to be aware the difficulties. We also need to plan for the long-term upkeep of the building beyond the terms of the Heritage Grant. And we need to be really 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 us in this way. 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.
Even though some of this has been delayed by Covid, if all goes according to plan we will be able to present the National Heritage Lottery Fund with a clear picture of what needs to be done to Fydell House, and to give good reasons for their support backed up with evidence, and to show that we have a competent and committed team of people to see it through. As you can see, there is more to it than just asking for the money!
Our bid to the NLHF has now been submitted and we must wait for a decision over the next few months. We are also appealing to other grant giving bodies, such as the Architectural Heritage Fund for further support.
Without the support of the Heritage Fund and others, places like Fydell House would gradually disappear.
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.