The Story of Chard Museum

Chard’s First Museum

Chard had its first ‘museum’ in 1880. Arthur Hull, a local man, had built up a collection of ‘curiosities’ while working as a surveyor in the area and left them to Chard Town Council when he died.
His collection was put on display in the Town Hall but attracted little interest and began to deteriorate so it was handed over to Somerset County Museum in Taunton in 1917.

Chard and District Museum

The Arthur Hull collection stayed there for the next fifty years until a newly-formed Chard History Group began to campaign for a museum in Chard to celebrate the story of the town.
The Town Council bought a derelict 16th century building in High Street, which had formerly been four cottages, and offered the restored building to a new ‘Museum Council’. This building, now known as Godworthy House, was the first home of Chard Museum
Godworthy House and the New Inn circa 1967
Much of the Arthur Hull collection was returned from Taunton and Chard and District Museum opened for the first time on 20th July, 1970. The Museum grew quickly and soon needed to expand.
Next door to the Museum a pub called the New Inn had closed and this too was bought by the Town and leased to the Museum.
For many years agricultural machinery had been made in Chard and examples began to be added to the Museum’s collections. By now display space was getting very limited so a new open-sided structure, the ‘Barn’, was built in the late 1980s. This was soon enclosed to make a weatherproof display area.
In 1994 the Town Council generously gave the Museum the use of an open space behind the Barn and this field now contains many other examples of locally manufactured farming equipment.

The barn in 2011