The basis of the Chard Museum collection dates from around 1880 when Arthur Hull, one of the Chard Five collected ‘curiosities’. He left these to the town and in 1917 they were transferred to the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. They returned to the new museum in 1970.
Exhibits in the museum tell the story of the town and the local area including geology, the fire of 1577, the Monmouth Rebellion, local lace, the Lace Riots and the rise and fall of industrial Chard. Outside there is a blacksmith’s forge and display of farm machinery. Much of which made by local firm Denings of Chard.
There are significant displays on notable people with connections to the town. This includes John Stringfellow, who with another local man William Samuel Henson achieved the first powered flight, in 1848, in a disused lace factory, with a 10-foot (3m), steam-driven flying machine.
James Gillingham pioneered the development of articulated artificial limbs. After working as a shoemaker in the town and seeing a man who had his arm so badly shattered in an accidental explosion of a cannon that it had to be amputated to the shoulder socket. In his and his families lifetime they helped 30,000 people. The museum includes a representation of his consulting room, including examples of his artificial limbs.
Other notables include Margaret Bondfield who was an English Labour politician and feminist, the first woman Cabinet minister in the United Kingdom and a member of the Congregational Church. James Griffith was a talented amateur scientist with a special interest in X-rays and telescope optics. He produced one of the first X-ray photographs of a hand. Corporal Samuel Vickery who was awarded the VC in 1897 for his actions during the attack on the Dargai Heights, Tirah, India during the Tirah Campaign.