PILGRIMS & PROPHETS BLOG

AMERICA’S CHRISTIAN HERITAGE: BOSTON, LINCs.

At Pilgrims & Prophets we offer the best tours of America’s Christian Heritage. As well as offering our unique high quality tours of the ‘Mayflower Pilgrims’ homeland around Babworth, Scrooby and Austerfield, we are also working in partnership with Boston Borough Council and churches in East Lincolnshire to bring you a comprehensive tour of many places around Boston that are crucial in early American history.

We offer a range of options for one or two days with expert guided tours. Tours start from around £150 for up to four people but we can also provide guides to travel with coach parties.

Willoughby church, Captain John Smith window - part of America's Christian heritage - is 45 minutes from Boston.
Window commemorating Captain John Smith at Willoughby, Lincolnshire.

Historically, the start of the story is at the tiny village of Willoughby where Captain John Smith, of Virginia and Pocahontas fame, was christened in the parish church’s font. You can also visit the old school room above the porch of Alford church, where Smith perhaps learnt some basics of maths and navigation.

Prison cells at Boston Guidhall where trhe Mayflower PIlgrim leaders were held.
The cells where William Brewster, Thomas Helwys and various leaders of Boston’s own puritans were kept while awaiting their first legal hearing in the court room above.

Following the story chronologically, your next step might be into the cells of Boston Guildhall where the ‘Mayflower Pilgrims’ waited for trial after their failed escape attempt from Boston in 1607. We now know that William Brewster, Thomas Helwys and other leaders spent time here in this beautiful market town and port. The same town produced the influential John Foxe, author of the best-selling ‘Book of Martyrs.’

Horbling church - scene of the Bradstreet romance, a part of America's Christian heritage near Boston.
Horbling church where Anne Dudley met Simon Bradstreet, whose father was its nonconformist minister.

Then we can explore the story of the ‘Great Migration’ beginning in the remote fields of Sempringham where the Earl of Lincoln hosted a meeting of Winthrop, Williams, Cotton, Dudley and Isaac Johnson. Nearby we can call in at Horbling, where the young Anne Dudley fell in love with Simon Bradstreet – years later their children were celebrated in one of Anne’s most famous poems. The story takes in the famous church known as ‘Boston Stump’ where John Cotton preached for hours at a time to packed congregations.

Foundations of America's Christian heritage? Capt John Smith's school at Alford is 40mins from Boston.
The school room above the church porch at Alford, where Francis Marbury may have taught John Smith of Virginia fame.

One of those who came to hear Cotton was Anne Hutchinson of Alford, a highly controversial person in America’s Christian heritage. We visit the church where her father was teacher and minister, and hear how he taught her to think for herself with turbulent results in New England and leading ultimately to her tragic death. Skipping a century or two, you can also see where the revolutionary Tom Paine had his office whilst working here as a customs official – a far cry from his antics in the American and French revolutions.

In New England Anne was supported by her relative John Wheelwright. The tour can also include where he was born and where he was vicar before he went to New England for a second time to avoid life under Charles II.

Country lane at Belleau - a forgotten corner of America's Christian heritage
Walk the lanes where Sir Henry Vane, Roger Williams, John Wheelwright and Lady Frances discussed religious liberty during the turbulent 1640s and 1650s.

Wheelwright was a close friend of Sir Henry Vane, who was Governor in Massachusetts at the time of the Hutchinson crisis. Vane returned to England and married a famously beautiful and talented Lincolnshire woman, so we can take you to the sylvan glade at Belleau where their house stood next to a pool of the purest water. Roger Williams of Rhode Island stayed here with the Vanes discussing the theories of religious liberty in which they were both so interested. The First Amendment shows their influence to this day. The resourceful Wheelwright was Vane’s minister here in the late 1650s – but a few years later Vane was beheaded by a vindictive Charles II.

All these wonderful places can be combined in a tour of America’s Christian heritage in some of England’s most distinctive landscapes. We provide different options of one or two days, and you can combine this area with our Pilgrims or Baptist tours into a personal package just for you.

You can do this tour as part of a three day package with us: https://www.pilgrimsandprophets.co.uk/tours/americas-heritage/

See also:

https://www.alford.info/history/

https://www.mybostonuk.com/bostonguildhall/