HIDDEN HIGH STREET HISTORIES - PEOPLE
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Emma Gifford (nee Rossiter ) came to Chard as the bride of lace factory owner, James Gifford. before they married in 1883, Emma, the daughter of a Taunton solicitor, had been educated at Dover and Bedford College, London and was a proficient mathematician.
Apart from running the lace factory, James Gifford and Emma shared an interest in experiments carried out in their well-equipped laboratory at their home, Oaklands on the Crewkerne Road. They had two telescopes, one on a balcony and another, larger one in the grounds as well as an observatory. By 1914, Emma had written her first book, Natural Sines and went on to write three mathematical volumes Natural Tangents between 1920 and 1927, before A Table of Primes and Factors appeared in 1931.
At the outbreak of war in 1914, Emma was appointed Commandant of the Red Cross (VAD) hospital in Monmouth House. The hospital specialised in treating amputees because of its proximity to James Gillingham's workshops.
For her outstanding work, Emma was awarded an O.B.E and given the Freedom of the Borough of Chard in 1920. The first woman to be honoured by the town.
Education was also important to her, as she regularly visited Southend, later Holyrood School to inspect the teaching methods and work of the pupils. For over thirty years the Gifford's maintained a district nurse for the benefit of the town and the Gifford Trust still operates today. This remarkable woman died in 1936, aged 75, leaving four daughters and a son.