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.
The Museum has produced four films and one or two of them are normally shown most days when the museum is open.
Based on interviews with a remarkable man, Neville Markham at 97 one of our oldest residents. The film includes wonderful historic photographs from private collections, the museum and archives.
Children of Godmanchester
In February 1934 Pathe Pictorial news cameras came to Godmanchester and filmed local man John Dayton playing his home made organ to a crowd of admiring children on West Street.
The film was played in every cinema in the land and that spring Godmanchester enjoyed national fame. Who were those shivering, laughing children? With the help of local families, the film sets out to identify the children and then find them, or their families.
The Chinese Bridge
The dismantling and replacement of our Town Bridge with new details from one of Godmanchester’s best liked historians, Ken Sneath about its original early 19th century architect, James Gallier. The film includes the reopening ceremony in 2010 by County Council Chairman Linda Oliver and children from Godmanchester Community Primary School and St Anne’s Primary School.
Memories of Godmanchester
This film contains marvellous old Godmanchester pictures from private collections and interviews.
Godmanchestered Remembered, Children of Godmanchester and The Chinese Bridge can be purchased from the Museum at £10 each or ordered on-line, see Museum Shop.
In addition to showing films produced by the museum there are many fascinating displays and interesting finds from this prominent military outpost of the Roman Empire. These include a display detailing the history of Durovigutum, the town constructed by the Romans here. It was burned at the time of Boudica’s revolt against Roman rule. The display will look at public buildings, including the second largest Mansion found in Britain and a temple to the Roman-British God Abandinus, who seems to have been unique to the town.
Other displays include a wonderful collection of rare photographs from St. Ann’s School in St Ann’s Lane, these charming photographs show children at the old school during the 1920s, 30s and through to the 1960s when the old school finally closed. They are not just class pictures, but also some lovely informal snaps of the children in the playground, in class and celebrating Christmases long past. Teachers are there as well.
A fascinating display devoted to the men of Godmanchester who went to war on bicycles. The Hunts Cyclists were a tribute in 1914 to a fleeting moment in history when the men who ran this country convinced themselves that this still relatively novel vehicle might be a replacement for cavalry, certainly cheaper. The impracticalities of actually pedaling off to attack the Germans were not necessarily immediately appreciated. The poignancy and bravery of the endeavour is told through the eyes of local men.
And finally nobody can fail to be delighted by the lovely images of old Edwardian Godmanchester captured by the skilled Post Street based Royal Photographer and Post card publisher, Alfred Hendrey.
We hope you enjoy this website and visit us regularly, and if possible come to the museum and meet us.
If you are interested in joining our team and helping with the setting up of displays, or talking to our visitors, helping with researching, filming, or assisting with film editing then please contact us.
Additional help and inspiration is always welcomed.