Work is now underway at St Botolph’s library to ensure the church’s historic and important collection of books can be preserved in Boston for future generations to enjoy.
The books, which number around 1,200 and date as far back as 1170, have been kept in St Botolph’s library since it was established in 1634. However, the building conditions, temperature, and light have posed a risk to the preservation of the books in recent years.
But now, sensitive improvement works are being carried out which mean the collection – that includes early editions of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by Boston-born John Foxe – can remain at St Botolph’s.
The works, which will see wall repairs, new décor, UV filters, temperature control, and new bookcases, are being carried out respectfully of the building’s heritage.
The improvements to the library are being complemented by the installation of a lighting scheme at St Botolph’s which will create a better lit space internally and provide new external lighting of the whole building, including for displays.
With the new lighting installed, St Botolph’s will be able to be lit up in different colours to mark special occasions and causes, impressively illuminating this part of town.
The library and lighting works, which have received £200k in funding through Boston Town Deal will enhance St Botolph as a major cultural asset in the town for local residents and will provide a boost to Boston’s tourism sector.
Chris Ladner, reader and parish resource officer for St Botolph’s, said: “This historic and important collection of books really is a jewel in the crown of Boston’s history, and one that has been enjoyed by people over hundreds of years.
“It is an asset of which we in Boston can all be proud, but, as we would expect with buildings of this age, improvements are needed to ensure that we can provide the optimal conditions to preserve these fine books. In addition, the lighting improvements will allow us to make better use of the building, opening it up for more flexible uses.
“We are really pleased to be working with Boston Town Deal which will secure the library’s future and create a better lit space for more people to use and enjoy.”
Neil Kempster, chair of Boston Town Deal, added: “St Botolph’s library is intrinsic to the historic fabric of our town, and it is a heritage asset of which we can all be proud.
“And, by improving the internal and external lighting, we can strengthen the building’s role as a cultural asset, allowing the space to be opened up for different and flexible uses.
“The board has been keen to prioritise the lighting and library works as we know that they will have a significant and sustainable impact for the town, ensuring St Botolph’s can be enjoyed by people who live here and by those who visit from further afield.
“Through the Town Deal investment in Boston, one of our goals is to build on the town’s unique heritage as we look to the future, and this project certainly achieves this aim.”
As well as the building works that are being carried out, the St Botolph’s team are also painstakingly scanning all the books to create an online archive. This will include the earliest book in the collection, St Augustin’s work on Genesis which was written in 1170.
It is expected that the library and lighting works will be completed by the end of the year.