CHARD, a market town and municipal borough in the Southern parliamentary division of Somersetshire, England, 142½ m. W. by S. of London by the London & South Western railway. Pop. (1901) 4437. It stands on high ground within 1 m. of the Devonshire border. Its cruciform parish church of St Mary the Virgin is Perpendicular of the 15th century. A fine east window is preserved. The manufactures include linen, lace, woollens, brassware and ironware. Chard is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 444 acres.
Chard (Cerdre, Cherdre, Cherde) was commercial in origin, being a trade centre near the Roman road to the west. There are two Roman villas in the parish. There was a British camp at Neroche in the neighbourhood. The bishop of Bath held Chard in 1086, and his successor granted in 1234 the first charter which made Chard a free borough, each burgage paying a rent of 12d. Trade in hides was forbidden to non-burgesses. This charter was confirmed in 1253, 1280 and 1285. Chard is said to have been incorporated by Elizabeth, as the corporation seal dates from 1570, but no Elizabethan charter can be found. It was incorporated by grant of Charles I. in 1642, and Charles II. gave a charter in 1683. Chard was a mesne borough, the first overlord being Bishop Joceline, whose successors held it (with a brief interval from 1545 to 1552) until 1801, when it was sold to Earl Poulett. Parliamentary representation began in 1312, and was lost in 1328. A market on Monday and fair on the 25th of July were granted in 1253, and confirmed in 1642 and 1683, when two more fair days were added (November 2 and May 3), the market being changed to Tuesday. The market day is now Monday, fairs being held on the first Wednesday in May, August and November, for corn and cattle only, their medieval importance as centres of the cloth trade having departed.