|“I feel that I am part and parcel of Godmanchester.”
The small town of Godmanchester lies on the River Ouse in East Anglia, just 19 miles North West of
Cambridge. Boasting over 2000 years of unbroken human habitation, Godmanchester was granted the Royal
Charter by King John in 1212 and received another royal visitor in the shape of King James I of England in
1603. A stroll through its streets will reward the visitor with over 400 years worth of architectural history.
Parts of Godmanchester today are pretty much as they were when William Alfred James was born, the last of
seven children, to William and Emma James on New Year's Eve, 1891. Having been a grinder and a wine
merchant's servant, William Alfred's father is noted as being a labourer at the time of his birth; a common
profession in the mainly rural Ouse Valley. He was christened at the local church, St Mary's, by the incumbent
vicar, Henry Hart Chamberlain and attended the Queen Elizabeth School in the town until he was just 11.
As the James family were resident in the town at the time of the Royal Charter, William Alfred was born a
freeman of the borough. This hereditary position, only granted as long as the recipient stays in the town,
affords the freeman various grazing rights and a revenue from the rental of common land.
|Above, William Alfred James can be seen, fourth from the left, in the back row of the line up for the
Godmanchester Football Club, 1912-13.
Having lied about his age to gain entry, William joined the Grenadier Guards in 1908. As a member of the King's
Company in 1910, he was one of those who stood guard as Edward VII lay in state in the throne room at
Buckingham Palace and at the funeral in Windsor.
comes from Anglo-Saxon
a "town or Roman buildings
associated with a man
called Godmund". Between
Huntingdon and Brampton
lies England's largest
|This website tells the story of
my Grandfather, William Alfred
James, of Godmanchester,
1891 - 1966
|William Alfred James - A Godmanchester Man