1600 Assizes Court
This plaque references a hall once in the middle of the street. Also and Assize Court and Market House 1600-1834AD. Here too, her hisband sold Lizzie Taffin 1801 for half a crown.
An assize is a court which formerly sat at intervals around the country, this administered the civil and criminal Law. In 1972 the civil jurisdiction of assizes was transferred to the High Court and the criminal jurisdiction to the Crown Court.
Chard was an assize town, one of only two assizes in Somerset, the other was held at Taunton Castle, the assizes were a resting place for the judges, who did not stay but were itinerant, journeying on daily. The building was in the middle of the street it contained a Market house a hall and the Assize Court. The first notice found occurs in 1266, when the courts were held at Cerde Episcopi, (Chard), on Saturday on the morrow of St Katherine.
Assizes were held twice yearly bringing justice to provincial towns, the actions recorded being almost all relating to land, money, theft and the occasional murder. Chard sittings preceded Exeter.
Chard had been taken off the Assize Circuit in 1667, well before the Rebellion in 1685.
Judge Jeffreys is accredited with sitting at Chard Assizes when sentencing men during the bloody Assizes in 1685 but the nearest he got was Taunton. A total of 514 people were tried at Taunton Castle and 144 were subjected to a gruesome end, of these twelve men were hung in Chard on what became known as ‘The Hanging Tree’ situated where Tescos now’s, the only Chard man Humphrey Hitchcock came from Thorncombe, the eleven others came from further afield. The twelve rebels were probably hanged and their limbs displayed by the Market Hall in the town. A piece of the reputed tree, was collected by Arthur Hull, and is held at Chard Museum.
The 12 men executed in Chard:
Simon Cross of Wellington & in Monmouth’s Army
William Davy, Yeoman of Upottery & in Monmouth’s Army
James Donnett, yeoman of Upottery & in Monmouth’s Army
Henry Eastabrooke, sergeworker of Kenton & in Monmouth’s Army
Edward Fort in Monmouth’s Army
William Godfrey, husband of Chilton Polden and Captain in Monmouth’s Army
Humphrey Hitchcock, clothworker of Thorncombe & in Monmouth’s Army
John Jervis in Monmouth’s Army
John Knight in Monmouth’s Army
Abraham Pill, husband of Chilton Polden & in Monmouth’s Army
Edward Warren of Taunton St Mary & in Blue Regiment of Monmouth’s Army
William Williams of Durleigh & in Monmouth’s Army