My name is Christopher Vane Percy I'm the seventh generation of my family to live in this house which was builtchristopher-vane-percyChristopher Vane Percy in the middle of the 18th Century by John Jackson the receiver of the land taxes. He put up this ornamental Chinese Bridge to link the garden with the island in the river from which the house takes its name.

In the middle of the 17th century Britain and northern Europe were gripped with China mania, this was due to the improved trade conditions with the far east and during the middle of the 18th century the rococo style which came into fashion was very much synonymous with Chinese Chippendale of which this bridge is a good sample of the style.

By the end of the 18th century the neo classical style had taken over and the Chinese taste had faded. But in the first half of the 19th century the prince regent flying against fashion, reinvented the Chinese style which can be seen in buildings like the Chinese pavilion, the Royal pavilion in Brighton. By the time we get to the 1820s, the style was already beginning to go out of fashion again, but it was decided by the Godmanchester town that they would like to have a Chinese bridge again while the style was fading.

The bridge here at Island Hall has been described in the 1800s as a pretty Chinese bridge. It was described again by Octavia Hill in the middle of the 19th century and towards the end of the 19th century it was altered to allow the horse drawn lawn mower to be pulled over by the Donkey.island-hall-chinese-bridgeIsland Hall Chinese Bridge

In the 1920s one of the Huntingdon Elms fell through the bridge on a night of a particularly fierce storm. The bridge with its elegant camber was destroyed. It was bolted back together again and this is the bridge I remember as a child. The bridge was finally winched into the river in the early 60s and in the mid 80s we started this new project to reconstruct a replica of John Jackson's bridge.

The bridge which has won an award for the craftsmanship award which was given by the Cambridge Architectural Association was obviously a feather in our cap. We also won the environmental trophy from the district council and it has restored to Godmanchester one of its more picturesque views