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For the town in Canada, see Godmanchester, Quebec.
Godmanchester Post Street.jpg
Post Street in Godmanchester
Godmanchester is located in Cambridgeshire
 Godmanchester shown within Cambridgeshire
Population 5,500 (2001)
OS grid reference TL245704
Civil parish Godmanchester
District Huntingdonshire
Shire county Cambridgeshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PE29
Dialling code 01480
Police Cambridgeshire
Fire Cambridgeshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Huntingdon
List of places

Coordinates: 52°19′03″N 0°10′21″W / 52.3176°N 0.1725°W / 52.3176; -0.1725

Godmanchester is a small town and civil parish within the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire, in England. It lies on the south bank of the River Great Ouse, south of the larger town of Huntingdon, and on the A14 road.


The town was on the site of the Roman town of Durovigutum.[1] It was first chartered by King John in 1212, though it had been a market town and royal manor for some years. There is archaeological evidence of Celtic and earlier habitation prior to the establishment of a key Roman town and a Mansio (inn), so the area has probably been continuously occupied for more than 2000 years. The settlement was at a crossroads of Roman roads, with Ermine Street, the Via Devana (from Cambridge, between Colchester and Chester) and a military road from Sandy, Bedfordshire, all passing through. The Roman settlement was sacked by Anglo-Saxons in the third century. In contrast to Huntingdon, there have been vast amounts of archaeological finds in the centre of Godmanchester, which has two conservation areas with a large number of timber-framed Tudor houses, the largest being Tudor Farm, dating from 1600 and restored in 1995.

The mansio is mentioned in Godmanchester's name, which comes from Anglo-Saxon Godmundceaster, meaning a "town or Roman buildings associated with a man called Godmund".[citation needed] The location is likely to have been originally settled due to the gravel beds providing a ford across the River Great Ouse. In 2003 it had a population of about 5500 in 3500 homes, with the largest[2] increase in population occurring between 1981 and 1991 (81%) with more modest growth since.

A former pronunciation, a contraction of Godmundceaster, is Gunecestre [3]


Godmanchester is a town and has a town council. The town council is elected by the residents of the town who have registered on the electoral roll; the town council is the lowest tier of government in England. A town council is responsible for providing and maintaining a variety of local services including allotments and a cemetery; grass cutting and tree planting within public open spaces such as a village green or playing fields. Godmanchester town council reviews all planning applications that might affect the town and makes recommendations to Huntingdonshire District Council, which is the local planning authority for the town. The town council also represents the views of the town on issues such as local transport, policing and the environment. The town council raises its own tax to pay for these services, known as the parish precept, which is collected as part of the Council Tax. The town council in Godmanchester has sixteen councillors including a mayor and a deputy-mayor.[4]

Godmanchester was in the historic and administrative county of Huntingdonshire until 1965. From 1965, the village was part of the new administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. Then in 1974, following the Local Government Act 1972, Godmanchester became a part of the county of Cambridgeshire. Godmanchester is a district ward of Huntingdonshire District Council[5] and is represented on the district council by two councillors.[6] For Cambridgeshire County Council Godmanchester is part of the electoral division of Godmanchester and Huntingdon East [5] and is represented on the county council by two councillors.[7]

At Westminster, Godmanchester is in the parliamentary constituency of Huntingdon,[5] and is represented in the House of Commons by Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative). Jonathan Djanogly has represented the constituency since 2001. The previous member of parliament was John Major (Conservative) who represented the constituency between 1983 and 2001. For the European Parliament Godmanchester is in the East of England (European Parliament constituency).

Culture and community[edit]

There are several bridges across the Great Ouse to Huntingdon, but until 1975 Old Bridge, Huntingdon, a medieval bridge, was the only one. It is now used only for light traffic, and a parallel footbridge has been built for pedestrians. Construction of the A14 bypass means that heavy traffic now flows over a modern bridge.

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.

About a mile south of the town centre, on the A1198 road at grid reference TL260683 is the headquarters of the Wood Green Animal Shelters - a charity dedicated to re-homing unwanted pets.

Original historical documents relating to Godmanchester, including the original church parish registers, local government records, maps, photographs and the surviving borough charters, are held by Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies at the County Record Office Huntingdon.

In October 2003 BBC1's Songs Of Praise was hosted by the parish church of St Mary the Virgin and featured the new hymn tune Godmanchester written by the vicar, Peter Moger.[8]


Chinese Bridge[edit]

One of the town's best-known features is its Chinese Bridge which connects the town with a water meadow. Local legend has it that the bridge was built without the use of nails or any other fixings. An architect later applied to the council for permission to deconstruct the bridge to discover how exactly this had been accomplished.[when?] This being done, however, reconstruction proved impossible, as the bridge would no longer support its own weight. Today the Chinese Bridge is held together by nails. The claims are of course all false. Indeed, a bridge in Queen's College, Cambridge has the same urban myth. More likely the original nails corroded away, giving the appearance that no nails existed. With maintenance work carried out in the latter part of the 20th century, nails would have been applied to strengthen the structure.

The bridge was removed by crane on 9 February 2010. A new replica was built off-site in two parts and was installed on 15–16 February 2010.[9]

Sport and leisure[edit]

Godmanchester has a non-League football club Godmanchester Rovers F.C. who play at Bearscroft Lane.


  1. ^ Rivet, A.L.F.; Smith, Colin (1979). The Place-Names of Roman Britain. London. p. 354. 
  2. ^ http://www.godmanchester.net/articles/population_figures.htm godmanchester.net
  3. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas. National Archives; CP 40/555;http://aalt.law.uh.edu/H4/CP40no555/bCP40no555dorses/IMG_0307.htm; 5th entry, seen at the end of the first line, the home of Robert Bocher, accused of taking animals from the plaintiff
  4. ^ "Godmanchester Town Council: Councillors". www.gmccouncil.com. Godmanchester Town Council. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "Ordnance Survey Election Maps". www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "Huntingdonshire District Council: Councillors". www.huntsdc.gov.uk. Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Cambridgeshire County Council: Councillors" (pdf). www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk. Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "Songs of Praise comes to Godmanchester", by Rebecca McKie at stmarysgodmanchester.org
  9. ^ "Godmanchester Community Association The Bridge magazine 2010" http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1o54e/GodmanchesterBridgeM/

External links[edit]