Chard Town Guide
...the birthplace of powered flight set in the foot of the unspoiled Blackdown Hills
Chard is the most southerly town in Somerset set close to the borders of both Devon and Dorset and therefore provides an ideal centre for visiting all that the three counties have to offer.
Listed in the Domesday book as Cerdre it was held by the Bishop of Wells and obtained its first charter from King John and then another from the Bishop in 1234
Much of the town was destroyed by fire in 1577 and rebuilt although further damage occurred in 1644 during the English Civil War when King Charles I spent a week in the town.
In 1685 the Bloody Assizes, some of the trials of the failed Monmouth Rebellion, were held by Judge Jeffries here with hangings taking place on Snowden Hill to the west of the town.
The textile industry was the mainstay of the town in the middle ages but with the influx of manufacturers fleeing from the Luddite resistance in the 19th century the lace industry grew with the opening of factories such as Bowdens Old Lace factory and Gifford Fox Factory.
The town claims to be the birthplace of powered flight when, in 1848, Victorian aeronautical pioneer John Stringfellow demonstrated engine powered flight was possible through his work on the aerial steam carriage.
Chard was also an important point on the Taunton Stop Line of World War II pill boxes and anti tank obstacles.
Somerset’s most southerly town and also the highest at 121 meters Chard offers a wonderful base for visiting all of the sights of Somerset, Devon and Dorset. It lies approximately 15 miles south west of Yeovil and has an attractive woodland to the north east of the town around Chard Reservoir where you can go fishing or bird watching – over 150 species - and enjoy the leisurely outdoor life.
The town has an unusual feature of a stream running both sides of Fore Street with one eventually emptying into the Bristol Channel and the other the English Channel. Although the streams are not visible the gutters remain and ultimately they do flow as described.
The church of St Mary the Virgin is a grade I listed 11th century building although largely rebuilt in the 15th century. It contains two bells dating from the 1790’s and the three stage tower has moulded string courses and an angled stair turret in the north west corner.
With plenty of local shops to browse and keep the visitor supplied throughout their stay, Chard is a lovely place to see.
Things to do and see
Chard Museum– located at the top of High Street take a fascinating look back at times past including the life of James Stringfellow, the pioneer of powered flight
Ferne Animal Sanctuary– Founded in 1939 as a charitable sanctuary for over 240 animals itoffers a beautiful nature trail, a picnic area and tearoom with outstanding views over the Yarty Valley.
Perrys Cider Mills– situated about 5 miles from Chard a working cider farm, farm shop, tea room and rural museum. Established in 1923 a full range of ciders are available for purchase and even tasting!
Hornsbury Mill– with its landscaped water garden
Local places of interest
Forde Abbey and Gardens – There are over 900 years of history encapsulated in this elegant former Cistercian monastery and its 30 acres of award winning gardens.
Clapton Court – 10 acres of formal and informal gardens, a must see for anyone interested in gardening
Barrington Court– National Trust owned Tudor manor house with beautiful gardens and old farm buildings that play host to local craftsmen you sell their wares.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015