The Porch museum has a reputation for presenting Godmanchester’s local history in new, inventive ways. Under the chairmanship of David Stokes the museum brings you an exciting programme this spring and summer, We have an entirely fresh photographic exhibition to add to our famous resident archive collection of old photographs. This exhibition includes remarkable rare old pictures of the streets of Godmanchester and Godmanchester townsfolk. People in this town are always helpful giving names to old photographs. We feel strongly that this helps preserves their memory and identity, and enriches the life of the town, so we invite you to visit us and do what you do best, put some names to the faces.
It’s not correct to imagine our Iron Age ancestors in Godmanchester as primitive and a bit dull. There are Iron Age round houses all over the town throughout the Roman occupation and it’s worth remembering that these houses were comfortable and efficient - described by Cambridge academic Professor Stephen Upex as effective, pleasant housing. Iron age citizens in what is now Godmanchester had a constant supply of fresh water here to wash in, liked cooking lamb for family lunches during which they probably wore good jewellery and some may have even educated their sons abroad. Women warriors were brave, as were the men; and at night they and their children slept under the softest sheep skins.
At the Porch Museum we’re taking a look at stylish men and women during World War 11 and in the forties. So here is a message to all men and women who were dressing with oomph at that time – could you please dig out a photograph of yourself or your friends and send it to us at the Porch Museum.
To all families - can you find a World War 11 or 1940s photograph of your mother, grandmother or favourite aunt, and that means father, grandfather and favourite uncle too. Send it to us with their name, date if you can, their age and what they were doing at that time.
Or if it’s you, just your name, age and date it was taken. If you don’t want to put your age, don’t worry. We may want to include your picture in our exhibition, so if you are emailing your picture, please give your permission for us to use your picture in the museum. Please include your telephone number.
The Museum is housed in the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, a Grade II listed building situated in the heart of the historic town of Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire. We are an independent museum and a part of the Friends of the Queen Elizabeth School a registered charity. The museum is run by a small team of enthusiastic volunteers who work together to record the town’s history and its people. We receive no government funding and rely on funds from various organisations, donations and the generosity of our visitors to fund our projects.
One of the Porch Museum aims is to produce and show short films devoted to the history of the town. We want to capture, through the memories of some of the oldest members of our community, as clear a perception as we can get of the way life was in this lovely town during the first half of the 20th century.
Godmanchester is an unusual town because many of the old families who have lived here for hundreds of years and whose ancestors are buried in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin, are still here. Markham, Arnold, Thompson and Mortlock are just a few of the many old names still represented here. In many cases we are recording not only memories of old Godmanchester from the vibrant and amusing senior members of these families, but through them the memories and experiences of their grandparents and great grandparents.
This way there’s every hope that we can bring to the community through snatches of remembered anecdote, at least an echo of how it was to live in Victorian Godmanchester.
SAMUEL JAMES HARWOOD – GODMANCHESTER HEADMASTER 1879-1888 - HUNTINGDONSHIRE - AUSTRALIA
By: Caroline Kesseler
Several years ago whilst looking through old Huntingdonshire newspapers (on microfilm in Huntingdon library), I came across the following report in the ‘Hunts County Guardian’ August 25th 1888 regarding a presentation made at a Godmanchester school to a Mr Samuel J. HARWOOD. He had lived in the parish for nine years, had been master of the Boys’ National School, and organist of the Parish Church: “In recognition of the services Mr Harwood had rendered,…the choir, some members of the congregation, and schoolboys, desired to give a testimonial upon leaving. The articles selected were a silver pencil case, by the boys of the school; a handsome travelling clock in case, and Blair’s cabinet edition of Shakespeare, by the choir and congregation. The presentation took place in the boy’s school-room before the choir and some of the church people, who were invited by the Vicar…who spoke of the valuable services Mr. Harwood had rendered…and said how much they all regretted his leaving…Mr Harwood left Godmanchester on Monday morning and will sail from Gravesend on 18th September, in the ‘Dacca,’ for Brisbane, Queensland, where he has an appointment under the education department.”