Looking Back: A brief history of Godmanchester

The Chinese Bridge in Godmanchester.

The Chinese Bridge in Godmanchester. - Credit: Archant

A community has existed in the Godmanchester area for 6,000 years.
Over the years, an extensive range of pottery, flint arrow heads and animal skeletons have been found.
Archaeologists also found material from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods during their work, which revealed aspects of Godmanchester's thousands of years of history.
The area which became Godmanchester was settled because of its position on the bank of the River Great Ouse which offered a shallow crossing point where the waterway could be forded, allowing access to the Huntingdon side of the river.
Today, the houses on the left-hand side of the road to Huntingdon deviate away from the route of the present highway, marking the track towards what is said to be the original river crossing, roughly where the A14 bridge stands.
People may well have been living in Godmanchester thousands of years earlier, but it is really the Romans who put it on the map, creating a key town, complete with an inn, which formed around the junction of important roads, including Ermine Street.
The town grew around Roman fortifications and remained a fixture after the Romans pulled out. 
Godmanchester also celebrates the signing of the town's charter by King John in 1212, although this created a self-governing manor in what was already a market town, it also raised money for the king who was trying to regain territory in France.
The historic town bridge between Godmanchester and Huntingdon dates back to the early 1300s and is a Grade I listed structure and scheduled ancient monument. Keen observers will notice decorative stonework on the Huntingdon side of the bridge but not on Godmanchester's.
Another bridge is probably the best-known landmark in Godmanchester - the Chinese Bridge which connects School Hill to the recreation ground. Built in 1827, the original bridge was constructed in a style which became known as "Chinese Chippendale" and followed a fashion for oriental design.

A cutting from The Hunts Post in 2010 when the new bridge was put in place. 

A cutting from The Hunts Post in 2010 when the new bridge was put in place. - Credit: ARCHANT


But the idea for the bridge is believed to have come from a nearby wooden crossing, taking its influence from the older Chinese-style bridge between the Island Hall mansion and the river island it is named after, tucked away in a far less prominent position.
The Chinese Bridge has been replaced twice after the structure decayed.



 

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