Don’t miss chance to explore Boston’s history with Domesday exhibition at Lincoln Castle

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Boston history buffs may want to visit Lincoln Castle over the next few months as one of the most revealing English History documents is on display.

The Domesday Book, organised as a census by William the Conqueror and completed in 1086, has left London for the first time in hundreds of years and will be on display in the Magna Carter vault from Saturday until September 3 as part of a the Battles and Dynasties exhibition.

A page on Lincolnshire from the Domesday Book. Image: Alecto Historical Editions

A page on Lincolnshire from the Domesday Book. Image: Alecto Historical Editions

Although the book does not specifically mention Boston, it does include reference to Skirbeck.

Dr Erik Grigg, Collections Access Officer at Lincolnshire County Council, told The Standard: “Boston is an oddity. Like London and Winchester, Boston is not actually mentioned in the Domesday Book. Until the Witham begun to silt up in the thirteenth century, boats used to sail straight past Boston on the way to Lincoln.

“Domesday Book entries for smaller towns are divided up and entered under the name of the main landowner so Boston is probably included in the Skirbeck entry.”

The book does detail the land of Count of Brittany Alan Rufus, who fought alongside the future king at the Battle of Hastings and was rewarded with lands mainly based around Richmond, in Yorkshire, but which also included Skirbeck.

The original 13th century illustration of the Battle of Lincoln, by Matthew Paris. From The Masters and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge MS 16, f. 55v.

The original 13th century illustration of the Battle of Lincoln, by Matthew Paris. From The Masters and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge MS 16, f. 55v.

Mr Grigg says the count ‘was probably William’s nephew’.

The entry for Skirbeck also records two churches and two priests.

Mr Grigg said: “One of these churches was presumably the parish church of Skirbeck and most historians think the other was St Botolph’s in Boston.”

Paul Dryburgh, principal records specialist for Medieval Records at the National Archive expanded: “In the Middle Ages, Boston was one of England’s most important and wealthy port towns.

The Charles I Tryptic image by Van Dyck. Image: Royal Collection Trust/ (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

The Charles I Tryptic image by Van Dyck. Image: Royal Collection Trust/ (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

“More wool was exported from Boston than from London in around 1300; at that time wool was England’s main and most marketable commodity. Boston’s story was one of a rapid rise to national prominence and growth.

“Very little is known about Boston before the Norman Conquest of 1066 and it is not mentioned in Domesday Book of 1086/7.

“Instead, the settlement probably formed part of the description for the hundred of Skirbeck; it seems to have been a small community of around 200 people, mostly peasants and fishermen, many of whom probably lived in Skirbeck itself. St Botolph’s church, from which the town took its Latin name (villa sancti Botulphi), is not mentioned in Domesday but it was probably one of the two churches listed under Skirbeck.”

The Domesday Book, is one of a number of nationally significant artefacts and local treasures making up the Battles and Dynasties exhibition organised by Lincolnshire County Council, Lord Cormack and the Historic Lincoln Trust.

Public engagement manager Jon Hogan said: “The Domesday Book has not been exhibited outside London in living memory. This is an unmissable chance for visitors to see the book within the grounds of a castle built by the same king that ordered the Domesday survey.

“It’s an extremely rare opportunity to be able to see three of the country’s most significant documents together, with Domesday alongside Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.”

Jeff James, chief executive and keeper at The National Archives in London, where the Domesday Book is usually based, said: “There simply is no other document like Domesday.

“It is our nation’s earliest, most important and most treasured public record, a work of the greatest historical significance.

“It offers an insight into life and society in England more than 900 years ago and just as importantly it still has the power to engage and inform us today.

“As a national institution we are delighted that the most iconic public record is going out to the public, allowing visitors a unique opportunity to view it as part of a fascinating exhibition in the fine medieval surroundings of Lincoln Castle this summer.”

The Battles and Dynasties exhibition, which also opens on Saturday at The Collection in Lincoln, will use documents, artefacts and paintings, will reveal even more than 900 years of the nation’s history, from the Battle of Lincoln, to the ill fate of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, to the abdication of Edward VIII.

It includes Van Dyck’s triptych painting of Charles I, lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, a prayer book owned by Richard III which he took to Bosworth Field, the last time an English Monarch was killed in battle and the original 13th century illustration of the Battle of Lincoln, by Matthew Paris.

Artefacts also include items are from private collections which are never usually on display.

Tickets to see the Domesday Book can be booked online at www.lincolncastle.com/domesday or for Battles and Dynasties at The Collection at www.thecollectionmuseum.com