National Gazetteer (1868) - Chard

"CHARD, a parish, borough, and market town in the east division of the hundred of Kingsbury, in the county of Somerset, 18 miles S. of Bridgwater, and 3 N. of the Chard Road station of the London and South-Western railway. It is situated on the highest ground between the British and English Channels, on the border of Devonshire, and was anciently spelt Cerde, or Cherde, taking its name from Cerdic, King of the West Saxons. In Domesday Survey it is called Cerdre, at which time the manor belonged to the Bishop of Wells. Bishop Jocelyn, of Bath and Wells, incorporated this borough, and gave the land from his manor of Chard for the building of the town, previous to which it is supposed to have constituted what is now known as the old town. The borough of Chard was represented in parliament during the reigns of Edwards I., II., and III., but by the neglect of the freemen the privilege was lost. The government of the town consists of a mayor, town council, and 4 aldermen. The town hall, recently erected in place of an ancient Gothic structure, is a fine building.

The town itself has been greatly improved of late years, and is lighted with gas. The streets are rather irregularly laid out, but the houses are in general well built. A plentiful supply of water is insured by a fine spring which issues at the head of the town, and flows by in a stream. The market house, an ancient structure, was originally built as a court-house for the assizes. The Somerset Banking Company have a branch bank here, and there is a literary institution, and agricultural society. Chard is the head of a Poor-law Union and County Court district, but Ilminster is the polling place for this portion of the county. The chief employment of the inhabitants is in the manufacture of lace, but there are also two iron foundries, and several Ether factories. The trade of the town is much facilitated by the Bridgwater canal, which has many commodious warehouses on the quay.

The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £436, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is an ancient stone edifice, erected in the reign of Henry VII., but recently restored. There is also a chapel of ease at Tatworth, recently erected for the use of the hamlets of South Chard, Combe, Chilson, Forton, and Perry Street. The Wesleyans, Free Church, Baptists, and Independents have places of worship, and there are National and British schools for both sexes. Here is a hospital for poor persons, natives of the town, endowed by Richard Harvey in the reign of Charles II., and rebuilt in 1841. There is also an endowed grammar school of ancient foundation. The chief seats in the neighbourhood, which abounds in pleasant scenery, are Parrocks Lodge, Cricket Lodge, Sadborrow House, Leigh House (where 500 coins of Claudius were found in 1831), and Castle Neroche (where tesselated pavements have been discovered). This place is mentioned in the history of the 17th century as being the place where the royalists, under Colonel Penruddock, were defeated, and likewise the birthplace of John Sandford and Sir Simon Every, the former an eminent divine, and the latter celebrated for his sufferings in the cause of Charles I. The lord of the manor is Earl Poulet. The market is on Monday, and fairs are held on the first Wednesdays in May, August, and November."

"CHARD, three townships of this name in the parish of Chard, in the east division of the hundred of Kingsbury, in the county of Somerset, distinguished as Old, South, and Crim."

"CHILSON, a hamlet in the tything of South Chard and the parish of Chard, in the county of Somerset, near Chard."

"CRIMCHARD, a township in the parish of Chard, hundred of Kingsbury, in the county of Somerset. See Chard."

"FORTON, a tything in the parish of Chard, hundred of Kingsbury, county Somerset, 1 mile S.E. of Chard."

"PERRY STREET, a hamlet in the parish of Chard, hundred of East Kingsbury, county Somerset, 2 miles from Chard, and 18 S. of Bridgwater. It is situated on Blackdown."

"TATWORTH, a tything in the parish of Chard, county Somerset, 11, mile S. of Chard. It is joined with Forton."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]