The Porch Museum remembers a hero of this town and tells his story once again, so that those who already know about him and those who do not can join together in celebrating an act of bravery.
Outside the south porch of St. Mary’s Church stands a prominent granite cross which marks the coming together of the community to show their grief and honour a remarkable young man from an old Godmanchester family. His name was George Cross.
On a summer’s day in 1920, young George Cross, then 21 years old saw a boat overturn on the river, just by the pool near The Island and the sluice gates. He dived in to rescue the young woman passenger and her little eight year old niece, but try as he might – and he was a strong swimmer - they both drowned. George swam hard, then suddenly struggled against the current. He almost reached the little girl, but ran into trouble himself. He was heard to cry out “I’m done” before sinking below the surface. Nobody could really understand why a strong young man who knew the waters so well could have drowned, but some said that the little girl in her panic grabbed his collar and prevented him swimming.
A massive funeral procession for George Cross wound through the town, from St. Ann’s Lane, along The Causeway, then to the church, the coffin followed by the
Mayor of Godmanchester and children from the local schools. Crowds filled the graveyard when the church was too full to take any more, and that evening the bell ringers rang a muffled peal. The community came together and funded the memorial cross that still stands today. His story and the story of his family who were well known in the town is a new addition to the family history boards which form part of the museum collection. His father Edward Cross, affectionately known as Nutti, held the position of Mace Bearer from 1919 to 1949 and will be affectionately remembered by older people in Godmanchester.