Lace Riot Walk - Bench No. 1
Bench No. 1 - Facing Fore Street
Bench No. 1 - The Guildhall
Welcome to the Chard Lace Riot Walk. With your back to the Guildhall you are facing Fore Street, the main road through Chard. The impressive building behind you is the old Town Hall, now called the Guildhall. Across the road and slightly to your left is the Phoenix Hotel. This was called the George Hotel and featured in the Lace Riots. The first bench, including a small plaque is to your right.
The events you are sharing today took place in 1842, when Chard had 4 Lace Mills producing plain bobbin net for lace curtains, some clothing and mosquito netting for the Empire. Poor trading conditions had meant the owners of Oram’s Mill had cut wages. After a harsh winter the Mayor had raised funds to buy coal, bacon and peas to feed some starving townspeople, August 1842 was very hot. Tempers had frayed and on 20th August the lace workers had walked out on strike and had gathered in the town.
The town authorities grew concerned about the mood of the crowd and directed the local constable and town crier, Tom Hutchins, to read out the Riot Act.This meant that if the crowd did not disperse the militia would be called.
Listen to Track 1 below: