This page provides a succinct biography of the Chard Five. Click on their name to read more detail of their contribution to the national and international community.
Margaret Bondfield (1873-1953), was a lace maker’s daughter born in Chard. She was active in women's suffrage but was not a suffragette.
She felt Suffragettes were just fighting for women's rights whereas she wanted equal rights for all people whatever class they came from. She became the first female cabinet minister in the Labour Government of 1929 accepting the post of Minster of Labour.
James Gillingham (1893-1924) in the Victorian age was the premier pioneer of modern artificial limbs. Born in Chard, his is a story showing progression from a skilled apprenticed leather worker to being the number one expert in his profession advising top surgeons. His legacy can be seen every time you watch a Paralympic event.
John Stringfellow (1799-1883) was a Victorian pioneer who developed and built a steam powered airframe which flew on a wire in one of the Chard Lace mills in 1848. Originally from Nottingham he was a very talented mechanical engineer. He initially worked in the Lace Mill making bobbins.
He had a keen interest in flight and teamed up with a fellow pioneer from Chard, William Henson. They had a lot to learn, early models were unstable and Henson eventually left for America. This left Stringfellow to work alone.
James Gifford (1856-1930) he became a talented amateur scientist with a
special interest in X-rays and telescope optics. He had a well-equipped laboratory at his house “Oaklands” on Crewkerne Road.
He produced one of the first X-ray photographs of a hand. He became a Colonel in the 5th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry and in World War 1 developed new optics for telescopes and periscopes.
Arthur Hull (1802-1880) was born in Crewkerne. He kept a daily diary from 1826 till he died in 1880. In the diary he describes everyday life in Chard. Part of his working life was as a land surveyor.
In this position people brought him items that they had found. These items have become the basis of the Arthur Hull collection and subsequently the heart of the present-day Chard Museum.