top of page
1583 Chard School

‘John Symes owned this Manor House in 1583. A school was founded in 1671, the Town Grammar School until 1890

In 1578 Chard saw a Great Fire when practically the whole town was consumed. Even William Symes a wealthy merchant could not save his property, however he rebuilt his property in a grand style fitting his position. On each side of the gable ends are William’s and Elizabeth’s initials. The building boasts a fine Galilee porch and ham-stone fenestrations. The walls are faced with squared, knapped flint, mined on Snowdon Hill above the town. William Symes retired to another property at Poundsford near Taunton and this Elizabethan House was left in his will in 1597 to his wife.

William’s son John married Amy Horner of Mells, near Frome. She was an heiress to Jack Horner’s fortune, Jack was a courtier at the Court of St James during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and he was in a position to acquire properties sequestrated from the abbeys and monasteries by the Tudors. It is rumored that the ownership document for his manor at Mells, which previously belonged to Glastonbury Abbey, was hidden away under the crust of a pie. This is where the popular jingle and later nursery rhyme came from:-

Little Jack Horner,

Sat in a corner,

Eating his pudding and pie,

He put in his thumb,

And pulled out a plum,

Saying what a good boy am I.

(The plum, of course being the manor at Mells)

John and Amy used her money to build a new mansion at Poundsford, his grandson, another William, bought the house with an acre of land from his grandfather for £300.00. The house must have proved a burden because on 24th May 1671 William gave it away by deed pole. The deed pole contained rules under which the trustees were to operate in the future, the school was founded, a day school for the sons of Chard’s residents. By 1709 the premises and land were conveyed to the corporation of Chard on a lease of 1000 years at a rent of 1d a year.

In 1727 there was a fire that destroyed the roof and top floors of the old school house. The 16th Century school being separate from the main-body of the Manor and School escaped both the fire of 1578 and 1727 and is probably all that remains of William Symes original Manor House.

In 1784 the school became a boarding school, changing from being solely a day school.

In 1928 in a period of growth with the support of Mr Wyndham from Orchard Wyndham near Williton and the appointment of Mr Hume the first non clerical Headmaster, Monmouth House, which became the Headmasters House, was purchased followed by the Red House in 1930 and playing fields.

Further to the North and looking out over the school playing fields are two modern buildings erected in 1961 and 1962 respectively. One of these contains two boarding houses (school House and Wyndham House) each with accommodation for 50 boys, linked by a changing room. Fully equipped for day boys as well, with showers lockers and drying rooms, and on the first-floor resident master’s flats and senior boys’ studies. The other building, a gift from the School Patron, contains Great Hall, capable of holding an audience of 300, a dinning hall and library. Elsewhere are a class-room block, given by Dr Vincent Harris in 1958, the Sanatorium and a small gymnasium. In January 1959 there was a fire at Wyndham house it was attended by five Brigades from Chard, Axminster, Crewkerne, Martock, Yeovil and Taunton, unfortunately nothing could be done to save the building but the fire was contained from spreading. A new building was built which was bigger within 12 months the foundations and footings had been laid. Later New Laboratories, also the gift of Dr Harris, were opened in 1966 and in 1969 containing aDomestic Science Laboratory and an Audio-Visual Department, arrangements were made to accommodate girls as day pupils.

Unfortunately due to huge debts the governors made the tough decision to sell some of the buildings, in 1971 The Red House was sold to become a furniture shop and warehouse. The buildings of Vincent-Harris and the Laboratory built in 1965 and classrooms built in 1959 along with playing fields were sold to Holyrood Secondary Modern. The School almost closed, now no longer a boarding school, the school re-opened as a day school with about 30 pupils in the first year growing to 100 in its second year, proving that there was a need for the school and as you can see it is still thriving today.

Monmouth House

Monmouth House Hospital, Chard

In 1915 Monmouth House (c1785) was taken over to become a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital – the only VAD hospital in the country specifically set up for fitting artificial limbs not only fitting but training wearers in their use. It was set up here because James Gillingham and his son Sidney made and fitted each prosthetic limbs personally Chard at the time was the only place where artificial limbs were made.

1915 this hospital was opened on December 30th 1915, with 35 patients. Between that date and May 11th 75 patients were received. Between July 8th and September 12 119. On September 19th the 33 patients then in Hospital were recalled owing to an outbreak of Typhoid in the town of Chard. The hospital was reopened on December 16th with 13 patients making a total of 207.The commandant was Mrs Gifford, (wife of James Gifford), Medical Officers Dr Sutherland and Dr Jupp who were local doctors have most kindly given their services.

Nursing staff supplied by Somerset. The members of VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) Somerset XI Commandant JJ Shepherd Esq. Provide orderlies and undertake the transport of the patients to the hospital. Through the kindness of Messrs. Marshalsea Brothers, Ilminster, who have generously lent a Motor Chassis for the duration of the War, a proper ambulance body has been fitted to it to carry out this work the cost of which has been defrayed by private contributions.

1917 At the request of Colonel Gill, the Inspecting Medical Officer, the Hospital was affiliated to Exeter, instead of Devonport and seven more beds added. 392 patients have been admitted in 1917.

This hospital has 49 beds received 482 patients during 1918. On May 30th patients were sent to be fitted with artificial legs by Mr Gillingham. Since then up to December 31st 1918, 157 artificial legs and two artificial arms have been fitted, mostly for men belonging to the South West of England. A large greenhouse has been fitted up, with a fixed handrail, full-length mirror, and measured steps in order to teach the men to walk properly. The men are drilled regularly and the Exeter Surgeon, who has to pass the legs on the men’s return, is very pleased with the results. A case of double amputation, one above and one below the knee, come in on October 24th, not having walked since May 8th, and left on December 9th able to walk upstairs, or in the street with one stick only. During the year a second bath, 6 wash-basins fitted with hot and cold water, and a separate water heating stove were installed at a cost of £130. Of this sum £80 came from the Perry Street factory and the rest from private subscriptions. This hospital has never received money, except when opened, from any Red Cross or County Fund.

Since it was opened, from December 30th 1915, to December 31st, 1918, 1051 patients have been received.

Obtained from British Red Cross Museum Archive – Roger Carter

bottom of page