Building » Boston – St Mary

Boston – St Mary

Horncastle Road, Boston, Lincolnshire PE21

A typical example of the simple Pre-Emancipation Regency type of chapel that predominated before the surge of building and the Gothic revival of the 1840s onwards. The external appearance of the church has been marred by a porch addition of the 1970s. There is a contemporary attached presbytery.

An influx of Irish construction workers following the passing of the 1809 and 1818 Fen Drainage Acts brought a large Irish Catholic population to Boston and with it the need for a Catholic church. Fr Addis, a Jesuit priest, arrived in 1825 and built the presbytery and then the present church, which opened in 1827, two years before the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act. The porch was built in 1974 by Reynolds & Scott.


The altar faces west but for the purposes of this report all references to compass points will assume an eastward facing altar. A simple, though quite large, brick box, typical of the retiring design of early nineteenth century Catholic churches. The brickwork is fair-faced to north and east, painted to south and painted and rendered to west. The original west front has pilasters and the gable end is treated as a quasi open pediment. The roof is probably pantile but is not visible. Placed across the west front is a single storey red brick porch or narthex with a hipped slate roof. It is completely out of character with the Georgian building. Of the same time a bell turret was fixed to the wall above the porch. The main part of the church has large rectangular windows under concrete lintels, three to the south and two to the north owing to the interruption of the attached presbytery, which was built first. The  windows  are divided by two mullions and a transom, with square leaded glazing.

The interior has plain plastered walls, a continuous moulded cornice and a shallow segmental ceiling with six panels of decorative coffering. The curve of the ceiling is echoed in the curve and arch of the sanctuary recess. The east end is much plainer following alterations in the late 1960s following Vatican II. At the west end a full width gallery of classical design with fluted Ionic columns and a panelled front which breaks  forward  in  the  centre. Staircase with ramped handrail and heavy turned newels. It is said to have come from the Anglican parish church when that was restored in 1851 and to have then been 120 years old, i.e. dating from around 1730, though it looks more late eighteenth century in date. A section of the altar rails of 1888 are now in the chapel within the 1974 porch. The original side altar recess on the north side now houses the organ. Several wooden statues, of no special artistic merit, probably those introduced in the 1950s. The pews date from 1888 and are not special.

List description (presbytery)


Presbytery house. Early C19. Stucco, hipped Welsh slate roof with overhanging eaves, 2 tall wall stacks in Gault brick. EXTERIOR: 2-storey, 3-bay front with plinth and flat end pilasters. Central 6-panel door up 2 steps with overlight having segmental tracery. Narrow carved door surround with paterae and flat hood, flanked by single glazing bar sashes. 1st floor has 3 similar slightly narrower windows. All openings have plain flat heads and stone sills. INTERIOR: not inspected. Listing NGR: TF3308444807

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established; Reynolds & Scott (1974)

Original Date: 1825

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed