1343 Medieval Chapel - Here in 1343 stood the medieval Borough Chapel of Saint Francis. It became a town hall after the reformation. It was sold in 1834 as building material for 43 pounds.
The present wide street once had three different buildings built on it opposite the Phoenix Hotel there was a Market House and hall. Next came the Sessions or Shire Hall known as the New Work and the Assize Hall, looking Gothic and ecclesiastical in appearance many suggest that it was originally a chapel-of-ease. Then even higher up at the beginning of High Street, The Shambles, The Old Market House which also served as a local theatre. This Gothic building, was formerly a chapel, but in 1791 after the reformation, it was a Town-Hall and Market House.
Chard was proud to be one of only two Assize towns in Somerset the other being Taunton. The market was held on Mondays, in 1791, and great quantities of corn and cattle are bought there to be traded. It is also the largest market for potatoes in England; thirty wagon-loads being brought on a market-day and even when it is quiet, seldom less than twenty.
Which building is the The New Work, Guild Chapel of St. Francis? They both may be the same building or different buildings we may never know.
With Chard growing ever busier and coaches only just able to pass, it was progress that meant that these buildings had to be removed.
Mates Illistrated says:-
‘When we remember that ten coaches traversed Chard daily, stirring the pulse of the place with the notes of the horn and creating a sense of bustle and gaiety, we cannot wonder that the old-world edifices were sacrificed to public convenience.’