Godmanchester is a pleasant riverside town of great age and much historic interest. It began life as a Roman fort town (Durovigutum), built shortly after AD43 to control the river crossing and several Romans roads. On the other side of the river stands the much larger Saxon settlement of Huntingdon, to which the town is connected via a 14th century arched-stone bridge.

Godmanchester Causeway
Godmanchester Causeway © Travel About Britain

The town has market charters dating back to the 13th-c. It became a borough in 1604 and further developed as busy staging post in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The architecture is pleasant jumble of periods and styles, ranging from attractive Stuart, Queen Anne and Georgian houses to ancient Elizabethan timbered and plastered dwellings; many with overhanging upper stories. Several ancient farm-houses can also be found on the outskirts. One of the most elegant houses in town is the stylish mid 18th-c mansion Island Hall, built for John Jackson the Receiver-General for Huntingdon. It later became home of the Baumgartner family (who changed their name to Percy) from 1810 until 1943.

The gabled, brick and stone Grade II Victorian town hall, originally the home of the Borough Council, is now the meeting place of the Godmanchester Senior Citizens Club. The Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, founded in 1560, has parts of its original structure still standing. The partly 13th-c Parish Church of St Mary, one of the largest in the county, is noted for its fine 15th-c misericords. Built over the site of a much earlier Saxon structure, its fine stone tower was not added until 1623.

Chinese Bridge

Godmanchester Chinese Bridge © TAB

A pleasant wide common, one of the largest water meadows in England, spreads out from the town alongside the River Great Ouse and its navigation. A water-side path leads to a delightful Chinese Bridge, originally constructed in 1827 to cross the narrow mill stream into town. The bridge eventually fell into disrepair and was replaced in 1960 with a replica. Built to a "Chinese Chippendale" style, with vertical supports and interlocking diagonals, it is now an iconic feature of the town.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Godmanchester has been a centre of importance for thousands of years. Recent discoveries include the original south and west town gates and a 2nd century suite of Roman Baths.

The town has good transport links with access to the A1 Great North Road, M11, A14, and a main-line rail connection to London at nearby Huntingdon.

Map of Godmanchester


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