From Pilgrims to Cotton – Boston and the Threads to America

Discover the latest research about the Pilgrim story in Boston, Lincolnshire, and how the town’s connections had a profound influence on the foundation of the United States of America.

Until now, Boston has been thought of as simply the port and market town where, in 1607, a group of separatists with no connections to the town dramatically attempted to escape, only to be betrayed and arrested, but new research is revealing a very different story... uncovering a complex and compelling tale of intrigue and influence which enhances the town's importance in both the wider beginnings of the Pilgrims as well as the foundation and administration of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1630.

In Boston Guildhall, you can visit the cells, stand in the Court Room and walk through the Council Chamber where the Pilgrims were held and tried in 1607.

Hear more about the Pilgrims' time in Boston and how Leonard Beetson, a young draper, linked the Pilgrims to the Cotton Congregation.

Discover the Spalding Court of Sewers and how the Clerks from this court linked to the Pilgrims and how these links influenced the judgement of those held in the cells after their failed attempt to escape for religious freedom.

This tour will provoke an emotive experience allowing you to see, touch and step back into this 1390s medieval building that held the Pilgrims for 30 days as prisoners and still retains original features today as they were in 1607.

You will hear an account from William Bradford’s Diary of their time in Boston, view museum collections and memorabilia and original documents which not only share the story of the Pilgrims but also make links to the Cotton Congregation who left Boston, England, for Boston, America, from 1630.

You will then be guided on a short walk into Boston’s medieval Market Place and view the small lanes, which both the Separatists and the Puritans would have walked as they made plans for their new lives in the ‘New World’.

View St Botolph’s Church (also known as the Stump) where Reverend Cotton's sermons could be heard and where his original pulpit is still displayed.

The tour will conclude with a traditional afternoon tea at a local coaching inn just off the Market Place, close to where Beetson’s draper shop was located.


Boston Guildhall, South Street, Boston, PE21 6HT


Polly Wilkinson, Museum, Events and Venue Officer +44 (0)1205 365954


Tour Highlights

  • Boston Guildhall, the original Building where the Pilgrims where held in 1607.
  • Step in to the cells, stand in the Court Room and walk into the Council Chamber.
  • Discover new exhibitions and view original documents and transcripts.
  • Explore the links of the Pilgrims and Cotton Congregation in the town of Boston.
  • Fully-accessible building.
  • Traditional afternoon tea experience in a local coaching inn restaurant located close to Leonard Beetson's drapers shop location.

Customisable Options

Options available to add bespoke and VIP experiences - prices and availability can be supplied on request

  • Traditional Pilgrim crafts programme (min. group size applies).
  • Boston Belle water boat trip.
  • Pilgrim Memorial visit.
  • Tour of St Botolph’s Church.
Sign up for the latest Mayflower 400 news

You'll be the first to hear the latest Mayflower news, events, and more.

Mayflower 400 Proudly Supported by our National Sponsors and Funding Partners