Godworthy House

Godworthy House

This part of the museum contains displays on the history of Chard from the time of its first charter in 1235 to its contribution to the two World Wars.

John Stringfellow

There is also a display, probably the best anywhere,
on the work of John Stringfellow, a pioneer of powered flight. He and his friend, William Henson, designed a steam powered aircraft and introduced a Bill into Parliament to set up an ‘Aerial Steam Navigation Company’ to fly people around the world.

When the Bill failed Henson emigrated to America but John Stringfellow carried on with experiments into flight. He finally built a ten-foot wingspan monoplane powered by a small stream engine which he managed to fly successfully in a disused lace mill in Chard in 1848.

One of Stringfellow’s Flying Machines

Larcombe Gallery

Named after a one-time volunteer who left a bequest to the Museum on his death, this gallery in Godworthy House has displays relating to some notable former citizens of Chard including Arthur Hull, Pte Vickery, VC, and Margaret Bondfield.

Arthur Hull was a local Victorian who collected many ‘curiosities’ during his life and he left them to the town on his death in 1888.
Transferred to the County Museum in Taunton in 1917 they were returned to the newly formed Chard Museum when it first opened in 1970.

Pte Samuel Vickery, born in Wambrook, Chard, in 1873, was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a comrade under heavy fire at Dargai Heights, India, in 1897. He was presented with his medal by Queen Victoria at Netley Hospital near Southampton where he was recovering from his wounds.

Margaret Bondfield, also born in Chard in 1873, left school at 14 and started work in a shop in Brighton. As a result of her personal experience of working conditions in shops she became involved in the trade union movement and in 1923 was elected first woman Chairman of the Trades Union Congress.

She became a Member of Parliament the same year and in 1929 was appointed Minister of Labour in Ramsay McDonald’s Labour government making her the first woman to serve in the Cabinet of any British government.

A new display contains locally found items from the Stone Age to the Roman period showing people have lived in the Chard area for many thousands of years