1235 Boundary Marker
Bishop Jocelyn marked a boundary of his new borough here ‘At the Gate of our Court’ 1235. To the south from here was Old Chard and the Manor building.
The Bishops Charter of 1235 created a borough of 53 acres, this remained unchanged for over 650 years. In this time the population grew and with this considerable wealth some of which was used to rebuild the parish church, which was completed in two generations, late 11th century early 12th century. The Church of St Mary the Virgin was built outside the borough boundaries and this fact must, over the years, have been a source of great contention.
In 1206 when Bishop Jocelyn obtained a charter of free warren in all his demesne lands in the parish, he generously gave 52 acres for the enlargement of the town, which till then had been limited to the space we call ‘Old Town’. The generous Bishop not only gave his acres to the town, but constituted it a Borough this charter being confirmed by Henry III in the 18th year of his reign (1234).
Jocelyn appreciated the value of this crossroad site on the highway from London to Exeter as a market and rather craftily isolated a small area of 52 acres from the rest of his manor on which merchants and tradesmen, willing to build there would be granted each an acre of land with an annual rent of 12 pence.
Jocelin of Wells was a Medieval Bishop of Bath (and Glastonbury). He became cannon of Wells Cathedral before 1200 and was elected bishop in 1206. He was mentioned in the Magna Carta in 1215. Jocelin was one of the bishops that crowned John’s son Henry III.
The boundary was not extended until June 27th 1892, this then included the church.
The map above shows changes in the boundaries of Chard.
The heavy pink area is the early boundary of Chard & Chard borough. The blue line shows the boundary of Chard in 1892 and the pale pink line shows the boundaries in 1931.
Extension of the borough of Chard in 1892
Two weeks of celebrations were held.
‘The days festivities fittingly commenced with a merry peal from the church bells at an early hour, and at six o’clock a bugle party in rather discordant tones, heralded the proceedings’.
There was a 21 gun salute from the cannons at the rear of the George Hotel (Phoenix).
The church bell rang at 9.30am for the divine service at the Parish Church.
At 11.30am more than 100 people started walking from Snowdon Hill around the new boundary across country, scaling hedges and ditches, fording streams, wallowing through quagmires and sewage works, and perhaps, after all, these obstacles, and the settling in of what threatened to be a continuous downpour of heavy rain more than 80 people dropped out.
A public luncheon was held at the Corn Exchange, catering Mr W B House of the George Hotel. The National Anthem was played at the commencement, grace being said by the Vicar. An excellent string band, conducted by Mr F W Baker, of Taunton, played on the stage playing a ‘pleasing selection of music during luncheon.’
‘A short toast list was observed, including in the first place ‘The Queen,’ The Prince and Princess of Wales and the rest of the Royal Family which were drank with enthusiasm’.
‘The company numbered 150, every available seat being taken.’
The Children’ Procession and Tea
A gathering of about 1,200 children under 14 set off from Penny Pot Field. The younger children at the beginning of the procession wended its way down to the market field with crowds of on-lookers along the route. The tea was held in a Marquee and the sides of the marquee were opened so spectators could enjoy the sight.
These took place in a field at the back of the George Hotel, a track having been prepared by the committee and a fair number of competitors being attracted by the substantial prize money offered.
A Grand Display of Fireworks
In Messrs. Pain and Sons’ best style, took place later in the evening and proved to be worthy both of the occasion and of the reputation of the eminent firm of caterers.
A dance at the Corn Exchange (Guild Hall)
The Mayor’s Banquet
The great celebrations in 1892 when the boundaries of the Borough of Chard were extended again, were commemorated by a medal.
Printed by Young and Sons ‘Chard and Ilminster News’ – The Public Celebration 27th June to 20th August 1892 of the Extension of the borough of chard.