Built in around 1450 by Richard Benyngton, collector of customs and excise in Boston, which was at the time, the wealthiest port in England outside London.
Once the impressive manorial home of Sir John Hussey, a member of the court of Henry VIII. The tower was constructed entirely of hand made red brick produced using local clay and was originally part of a large manor house, including a great hall, servants quarters, kitchens, stables and a large gatehouse. The tower was reserved for the high status accommodation of the Lord and his family.
A monument under threat
Hussey Tower is an important surviving example of a late medieval tower house, and of early brick building in Lincolnshire. It was built in around 1460 by Richard Benyngton, collector of taxes and Justice of the Peace for Boston. Benyngton would have known Ralph, Lord Cromwell, who built the great brick tower at nearby Tattershall, and Hussey Tower’s design reflects this influence.
Other brick buildings being constructed at about the same time include Rochford Tower at Fishtoft, the Tower on the Moor at Woodhall Spa, Ayscoughfee Hall at Spalding and Kirby Muxloe Castle in Leicestershire. The similarities in materials, design and architectural decoration in these buildings show that the politics and social hierarchy of the period had a major influence on the houses of the rich and powerful.
Hussey Tower as it exists today is only part of what was originally a much larger complex of buildings. It retains some rare architectural features including the remains of a brick vaulted ceiling and an octagonal stair turret containing a spiral staircase with a finely moulded brick handrail. It is both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II* Listed Building. These designations recognise the importance of the tower and aim to protect it in the present and for the future.
The Tower and its surroundings have a fascinating history and are an important part of Boston’s past. The archaeological remains of the area are particularly rich and well preserved and constitute valuable and irreplaceable evidence of the human activity that has taken place in the vicinity over hundreds of years.
The current situation
The Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire has managed Hussey Tower on behalf of Boston Borough Council since 1996, but the task is not a straightforward one. There are a number of issues that threaten its survival, not least of which is the financial investment that is needed to keep buildings such as this one in a good state of repair:
- Persistent vandalism threatens the fabric of the building and costs large amounts of money each year to repair. Hussey Tower’s somewhat isolated position to the south of the town centre has unfortunately made it a target for vandals in the past. The brickwork has been damaged and it is often necessary to remove graffiti from the walls. There is also a litter problem on the site, and regular visits are essential in order to maintain the grounds to an acceptable standard. The current regeneration of the surrounding area has improved the setting to some extent and it has recently been further enhanced by new landscaping, but the tower still remains cut off from its immediate setting and the main part of the town.
- Pigeon droppings damage the brickwork and are a health hazard to humans. Hussey Tower is without floors and a roof, and pigeons find it an ideal roosting and nesting site. Their droppings damage the fabric of the building and are also a health hazard. A considerable sum of money is spent each year on removing the mess they make. This is usually carried out in the spring so that the tower is looking its best for the open days that are held during the spring and summer.
- Hussey Tower is open to the elements. Wind and rain cause damage to the structure. Because it is roofless the tower is subject to wind and water erosion. There is also a tendency for vegetation to take root in the brickwork, which can cause additional damage if left to grow.
Putting a roof on Hussey Tower would help to resolve all these issues and would allow more access and further opportunities for events and education.
It is hoped that it will eventually be possible to put a roof on the tower to alleviate many of the factors that currently threaten it. It would also allow the tower to be opened to the public more regularly, more information about the tower and its history could be housed inside, and a wider variety of events and activities could be held there.
Spending money on Hussey Tower… why should money be spent on the historic environment?
Opinion as to the validity of spending considerable amounts of money on buildings like Hussey Tower is divided. It is often argued that the money needed to maintain them would be better spent on things that have an immediate impact on people’s lives, such as health and welfare provision. On the other hand, although the value of the historic environment is perhaps less tangible, it is a highly effective educational tool which provides an important link to our past. Historic buildings also make an important contribution to the character of a place, and the gradual erosion of the historic fabric of a town can result in a loss of the appeal of an area. Once it has disappeared it cannot be replaced, and it could even be suggested that we have a duty to preserve it for future generations.
It should also be noted that investment in the historic environment can encourage further private investment, as the restoration of a historic building often acts as a catalyst for regeneration. If a project to roof the tower is successful, external sources of funding will bring further investment into the area and the completed tower would offer a further quality heritage tourism destination to the historic town of Boston.
Parking and access
The tower is located only a short walking distance from car parks in the town centre. Follow signs to the docks on Southend and turn into Skirbeck Road.
Wheelchair access is available at the main gate.
The tower remains locked at all times except on an arranged open day.
Grid ref: TF 3308 4357
The site of Hussey Tower is open from dawn until dusk all year round. The Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire currently organise two open days each year to allow access inside the tower.
The tower remains locked at all times except on an arranged open day.
There are no toilet or refreshment facilities at the site. A display panel is erected onsite providing historical information for the visitor.
For your safety
- Please take care as historic sites can be hazardous.
- Wilful damage to the monument is an offence.
- Unauthorised use of metal detectors is prohibited.
Medieval Boston Heritage Trail
If you’re thinking of visiting Hussey Tower or planning a trip to Boston then why not follow our heritage trail and take in some of the town’s rich medieval history:
…you can also pick up a free paper copy from the Guildhall, St Botoloph’s Church, or Blackfriars Arts Centre in Boston.