History of Freiston Shore

In the 1920's

Photo by Barnes Collection

The Marine Hotel with Stables opposite -1920's approx.

Freiston shore is two miles from the centre of the village, and has been a very important part of Freiston over the years.  Back in the 19th century it was popular for sea bathing, was known for its good hotels and horse racing would take place at least four times a year.  Now in the 21st century it has one of the UK’s largest coastal realignment projects; saltmarsh and wetland have been created on this new and outstanding RSPB nature reserve on the edge of the Wash, primarily for flood defence reasons.

  •  ‘Sea Bathing on these shores is very good for all scorbutic complaints etc, and a poor appetite... Yet I thought a great many of the company came to see and be seen more than for sea bathing.  Young ladies to see for husbands, and your fortune-hunters for wives.  These are the humours of Freiston Shore.'  (Diary of R Fowke, a visitor to Freiston Shore in 1805)

In 1842 William White recorded.  ‘At Freiston Shore, are two good Hotels, pleasantly situated near the sea bank and much resorted to in the summer by the people of Boston and far off places, desirous of enjoying the salubrious exercise of sea bathing’.

The Plummers Hotel as we know it was originally called ‘The Coach House’.  Thomas Plummer, a large land owner, took over the hotel in 1842 and by 1856 it received its present name.  The hotel had a long room, which was used for dances and connected to the sea bank by a bridge.  The hotel had a large number of guest bedrooms.  It had stabling for 20 horses and buildings to accommodate the coaches.  The Plummers has now been redeveloped into a Guest House with flats and mews accommodation.

The Marine Hotel was originally called ‘The Anchor’, however, like The Plummers it was renamed in 1856.  The Marine had thirty one guest rooms, a large party/dance room and was connected to the bank by two bridges.  The Marine had stabling for twenty eight horses and accommodation on the opposite side of the road for coaches.  For many years the Marine was left as a pathetic ruin, plans were passed to develop the site into accommodation but no building work has started.

Both The Plummers and the Marine are on the Grade II listed buildings list.

Both Hotels had their visitors arriving in their Coaches for the Horse Racing four times a year.  Freiston Shore was once considered highly fashionable and visitors used to come after the London Season staying at the two fairly large hotels.  Numerous old photographs (in the collection by J W & Mrs J Barnes) show evidence of visitors and large crowds attending the fairs etc and on the 29th June 1844 the ‘London Illustrated News’ had an illustration of the shore races which showed they were very well attended.   A daily summer omnibus connected the Hotels to Boston.

An article on Freiston Shore appeared in The Boston Gazette - 14th August 1832.

  • ‘This bathing place is now restored to all its former popularity.  It has been crowded with visitors as well from distant counties as from the adjoining towns.  The landlords at both the inns exert their utmost to oblige and gratify their guests, and they have been plentifully rewarded by a vast accession of customers.  On Sunday the shore was crowded with visitors to observe the beautiful appearance of the majestic tide rolling in, - the first rays of the setting sun gleaming on the waters, the evening breeze gently curling the billows, and the near fishing boats moored in the distance then succeeded the purple twilight tingling the flood, and afterwards the moon beams sleeping on the vast sea, perfectly calm.  It was indeed a magnificent spectacle.  The facility of intercourse, by conveyances, from Boston, the company assembled anxious to make each other comfortable, the numerous sea-parties, and the amusements of shore, all tend to make this spot a desirable resort - Next Monday is appointed for rural sports of all kinds, racing for a silver cup and various other prizes.’

Fishing boats were used at the Shore and caught herring, sole and sprats as well as shrimps and oysters.  There were two Coast Guards stationed at Freiston Shore.  The house is still in good repair and it has a watch tower which was used to scan the marshes for smugglers.

As travelling became more available with cars, buses and trains the visiting in our small parish disappeared until the 21st century. 

Buses operated from Boston to Freiston Shore with 'Battle' then 'Sharp of Boston' during the early and middle part of the 20th century.

In October 2002 the Nature Reserve was formed as part of a long term plan to halt the erosion of the outer seabank and to strengthen flood defences.  Material used for the inner bank was dug out between the two banks forming a lagoon.  The outer bank was breached in three places allowing the land which had been reclaimed twenty years previously to once again return to salt marsh.

Freiston Shore is an important resource for the local community.  It is one of the best access points for the Wash and provides one of the area’s best bird spectacles.  As well as numerous walkers and birdwatchers, over 1,000 school children visit the reserve each year to learn about the environment.

The nature reserve has a large lagoon, bird hide, bank walks and car parking.  The lagoon has islands for roosting and breeding birds.  The hide has excellent views of the lagoon, salt marsh and huge expanse of the wash.  Over 30,000 people visited the reserve in 2002, this increasing to over 50,000 in 2011 to observe such birds as Avocets, Wigeon, Teal and Brent Geese.  For up-to-date information on the Nature Reserve visit the RSPB website.


Janet Bucknall wrote: (April 2014)

  • Just back from a couple of days camping in your area.  Came to visit the village, well, mostly the shore, as my 3 times G/Grandfather was drowned on Freiston Shore in 1864.  He was shrimping with a horse and cart, with one of his sons.  He hit a deep patch and the horse and cart, plus him, ended up in the sea and he couldn't swim.  I was expecting to be able to see a beach, did not realist it was now a bird reserve, so a little disappointed from that point of view.  I took some photos anyway.  His name was Charles Daubney and he lived in Butterwick, which I also visited.  He'd been working for a local miller but had to leave due to 'infirmities'.  He was only 56 but classed as a 'poor old man' at the time!


Compiled by J W & Mrs J Barnes from local knowledge together with information taken from

Boston Library (Freiston - reference)

(updated June 2015)