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6 Hope Terrace

Local Philanthropists Revd. John Gunn, instigated the building of this Terrace to relieve acute hardship caused by unemployment in the 1820’s.

In the 1820’s there was a great deal of industrial depression in Chard and at the initiative of the independent minister, a Revd. John Gunn and a group of influential and like-minded local people brought about the construction of this Terrace to provide employment.

The local wool and cloth industry was badly hit by competition from northern textile mills and Indian cotton in the 19th century. Lace making had virtually replaced it by the 1820’s, thanks to the relocation the Nottinghamshire lace manufacturers. Old mills were converted, and new ones established, the industry expanding rapidly in the first half of the 19th Century. Lace-manufacturers remained Chard’s staple employers until the early 20th century (though linen and rope manufacture was also carried out), but it was an unstable industry locked into a cycle of boom and depression. Indeed, throughout much of the 19th century Chard was an uneasy mix of industrial expansion and deprivation.

The period after the Napoleonic was saw slumps in economic activity and wages, particularly among textile workers and weavers who saw wages drop by 2/3. The ending of the corn laws also saw agricultural unemployment and steep rises in food prices, so Chard was very hard hit. The Rev. Gunns scheme brought much needed relief when many in the town were unable to feed their families.

John Gun was the minster of the independent chapel in Fore Street, he was educated in Edinburgh and Homerton college in London and had preached for a year at Glastonbury. The Sunday School prospered and for generations was the largest in town. He persuaded his congregation to take an increasing interest in all Christian Societies and he was active in many public movements for civil and religious liberties both at home and abroad.

He attracted earnest, thinking young men and encouraged their studies of serious scientific and classical subjects.

John Gunn has a memorial in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church.

Bears the following inscription

To the memory of the Rev. John Gunn, upwards of twenty years pastor of the Independent Chapel in this town, who died April 9, 1836, aged 47. In his character were combined the graces of a Christian with the virtue of the patriot, while his liberality and benevolence endeared him to a large circle of friends who unite with his sorrowing congregation in thus commemorating his distinguished worth.’

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