Tudor history and famous Chinese Bridge in Godmanchester
- Credit: HUNTS POST
The town of Godmanchester has been built up around the site of the old Roman town of Durovigutum and archaeological evidence of Celtic, and even earlier habitation, has been discovered.
The Roman settlement was sacked by the Anglo-Saxons in the third century. In contrast to Huntingdon, archaeological finds have been extensive in the centre of Godmanchester, which has two conservation areas and includes many timber-framed Tudor houses, the largest being Tudor Farm, which dates from 1600, and was restored in 1995.
The town's names comes from the Anglo-Saxon Godmundceaster and refers to a Roman fortified place or army camp of/belonging to Godmund, which was a typical Saxon name
The town was listed as Godmundcestre in the Domesday Book of 1086 in the Hundred of Leightonstone in Huntingdonshire. The survey records that there were 26 ploughlands, 160 acres of meadows, 50 acres of woodland and three water mills, a church and a priest.
Godmanchester was first chartered by King John in 1212, though it had been a market town and royal manor for some years. King James granted a second Royal Charter in 1604.
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The town has a lot of interesting history, including Farm Hall, on West Street, which was used as a detention centre for a while during the Second World War. This was known as Operation Epsilon and it ran from July 1945 to January 1946.
A group of 10 prisoners, including three Nobel Prize winners, who were Werner Heisenberg - a pioneer of quantum mechanics; Otto Hahn - who discovered nuclear fission and Max von Laue - who studied x-rays were held, to discovered if they anything about the Nazi's nuclear programme, which it turned out, they didn't.
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Between Godmanchester, Huntingdon and Brampton lies England's largest meadow, Portholme, which remains an important flood plain, but which has served as an equestrian racecourse and centre for early aviation.
One of town's local landmarks is the Chinese Bridge. The original bridge was removed by crane in February 2010 and replica was built off-site, in two parts, and installed a few weeks later.
The Godmanchester Museum has a good selection of artefacts and items relating to the Roman and Iron Age and lots of old photographs that look at local community history in the town.