Chard is a charming historic market town nestled within the glorious countryside of South Somerset, close to the Devon and Dorset borders and its second largest town, with a population of approximately 14,000. At 121 metres (397ft) above sea level it is both the southernmost and one of the highest located towns in Somerset.
People have been living in the Chard area since prehistoric times and villas nearby at Tatworth and Wadeford show that Romans lived here too, but the first written mention of the town was in 1065 just prior to the Norman invasion. A little over twenty years later the Doomsday Book recorded details of the settlement which was then a large, though not rich, manor.
In the middle of the 13th century the lord of the manor, the Bishop of Wells, drew up a charter founding a new borough of Chard. The site of the original village, now known as Old Town, was near St Mary’s Church but the new borough was created a little distance away on what is now the A30.
Like many towns in England, Chard became closely involved in the wool trade. The rise of the woollen trade in the north of England badly affected the industry in Chard but in 1819 the manufacture of lace arrived. Soon there were mills in and around Chard producing bobbin lace net which was exported worldwide.
A thriving engineering industry grew up alongside the lace mills and several of the firms which developed from this are still operating in Chard today.
You can discover more about the town’s history in Chard Museum located in Godworthy House, High Street, or by visiting the Local Information Centre at The Guildhall.
Chard is easily accessible, situated on the main London – Exeter route, so why not stop off at one of the cafes, pubs or restaurants. Call in and visit the Antiques, Vintage, Collectables & Craft Market or relax by Chard Reservoir, surrounded by a tranquil nature reserve and the stunning Blackdown Hills.
Additional local information:
Chard Local Information Centre, The Guildhall, Fore Street, Chard, Somerset, TA20 1PP
T: 01460 260051