Chard, a municipal borough, a market-town, and a parish in Somerset. The town is 142 miles from London, and 13 from Taunton, with which it is united by a branch of the G.W.R. It is paved, and supplied with good water from a spring in the vicinity. Chard was known to the 'Saxons as Cerdre, was visited in 1644 by Charles I. on his return from Cornwall, was the scene of a defeat of the Royalists under the command of Colonel Penruddock, and witnessed a sanguinary execution in 1685 in connection with the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth. It comprises three chief thoroughfares, presents an irregular appearance, with very many recent improvements. It has a head post office, two banks, a town-hall, an assembly room, a parish church, four dissenting chapels, a grammar school, an almshouse with £844 a year, a workhouse, three iron-foundries, and three large lace factories. The town-hall is in the Tuscan style, with market-hall. The corn exchange, situated in the rear of the town-hall, is a spacious building, and is used as the volunteer drill-hall. Well-attended markets are held on Mondays, fairs on the first Wednesday of May, Aug., and Nov., and great markets for sheep and cattle on the first Monday in Dec., Jan., Feb., March, and April. A good trade exists in agricultural produce. The town was made a borough in the time of Edward L, sent members to Parliament till the time of Edward III., and is now governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. The boundaries of the borough were considerably enlarged in 1892. Sandford, the divine of the 16th century, and Sir Simon Every, who figured as a Royalistinthe Civil War, were natives. The parish includes also the tithings of Old Chard, South Chard, Crim Chard, and Fonton and Tatworth. Acreage, 5646; population of the civil parish, 3500; of the ecclesiastical, 5118. Snowdon, a high hill connected with the Black Downs, rises immediately above the town, and commands a magnificent prospect over Somerset and Devon. Several barrows, called Robin Hood's butts, and traditionally associated with the exploits of Robin Hood and Little John, are on Brown Down. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bath and Wells; net value, £290 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The church is Later English, long, low, and cruciform, was restored in 1828 and again in 1883, and contains an elaborate monument of 1614. A mission chapel was erected in 1873. The civil parish includes the ecclesiastical parish of Tetworth. A Congregational chapel was built in 1869, at a cost of £3000.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Chard St. Mary|
|Poor Law union||Chard|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The cemetery, at the north-east end of the town, was formed in 1857 at a cost of about £3,500, and consists of about 5½ acres of ground with two mortuary chapels for the Church of England and Nonconformists, and a keeper's lodge at the entrance.
The parish register of baptisms and burials dates from the year 1649; marriages, 1652; but these are irregular up to 1663.
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.
Church of England
Church of the Good Shepherd
The Church of the Good Shepherd, founded as a mission chapel to the Church of St Mary the Virgin, is a building of chert rubble with Ham stone dressings The land was purchased in 1871-2 and the first stage of construction, comprising the nave and the chancel, was completed in 1873. The south aisle and porch, together with the north vestry and organ chamber were added the following year. The north aisle was added in 1895, and the church consecrated the following year.
St. Mary the Virgin (parish church)
The church of St. Mary the Virgin is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave of six bays, aisles, transepts, north and south porches and an embattled western tower with pinnacles and a turret, and containing a clock with chimes, presented by Mr. George England on the 50th anniversary of his wedding day, 20th June, 1886, and 8 bells, two of which were presented by G. T. Canning esq. and the rest of the peal then rehung; the chancel retains a piscina, and there are three hagioscopes, and the doorway to the rood loft staircase also remains; on the north transept wall are indistinct traces of ancient paintings; there is a memorial window in the chancel, erected in 1879, to the Rev. Henry Thompson M.A. vicar, and another to Mr. William Salter: there are tablets to the memory of Elizabeth, relict of Henry Fry, of Deer Park, Devon, who died in 1787, and to the Smith family, 1686, and several former vicars: in 1884 a pulpit of oak, on a base of Ham stone, from designs by Mr. J. D. Sedding, architect, was erected and a brass eagle lectern presented; these form a memorial to children of the late Mr. W. J. Tucker, a former town clerk: in 1907 an east window in the chancel was erected to the Rev. Prebendary J. W. Robinson M.A. vicar 1890-1907: the church was restored in 1883-4 at a cost of £3,400, and affords sittings for 525 persons.
Baptist Chapel, Holyrood Street
The Baptist chapel, in Holyrood street, is a large stone edifice in the Italian style, capable of seating 500 persons, The original building dated from 1653 and its registers from 1788.
Congregational Chapel, Fore Street
The Congregational chapel, in Fore street, erected at a cost of £2,000, is a building of stone in the Decorated style, from designs by Mr. Stent, architect, of Warminster, and consists of chancel, nave and aisles with galleries, organ chamber and a tower with spire, and has a stained window. The older chapel in High street dated from 1672, and its registers from 1786.
Chard Methodist Church
The Wesleyan chapel, in Fore street, erected in 1895 at a cost of £3,400, is of red brick with Bath stone dressings, in the Gothic style, from designs by Mr. B. Curwen A.R.I.B.A. of London, and consists of apsidal chancel and clerestoried nave, and will seat 330 persons. At the back of the chapel is a large schoolroom, a minister's vestry, and class rooms.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Chard from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Chard (St. Mary))
Online maps of Chard are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Somerset papers online:
- Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette
- Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser
- Western Gazette
- Wells Journal
- Somerset County Gazette
The Visitation of Somersetshire, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.