The early fifteenth-century church is cruciform if we regard the high porches as transepts. The whole building, including the tower, is very low in proportion to its length. The fine gargoyles will be noticed before entering; equally elaborate is the roof of the chancel, but perhaps the most striking item is the magnificent tomb of William Brewer (1641) in the north transept.
As at Honiton, the mile of High Street is undeniably a true section of the Fosse Way, though at each end the modern road departs from the old way and shirks the hills. The geographical position of the street is interesting in that it stands on a “great divide.” During rain the gutters take the water in two directions, to the English Channel and the Severn Sea. There is no clear evidence of the existence of a Roman station hereabouts, though it is more than probable that such was the case. The name of the town proves it to have been a Saxon settlement. Bishop Joscelyn of Wells made its fortune by his endowments and the gift of a borough charter. Chard bore its part in the Civil War and Charles I was obliged to stay here for a week, in his retreat from the west country, awaiting the commissariat that Somerset had failed to provide. “Hangcross Tree,” a great oak, stood within living memory in the lower town on the way to the South Western station. This was the gibbet upon which twelve natives of Chard, followers of Monmouth, paid the penalty for their rebellion.
[Illustration: FORD ABBEY.]
The excursion par excellence is to Ford Abbey, situated about four miles away on the banks of the Axe. (Prospective visitors who wish to see more than the exterior must make preliminary inquiries.) The situation is beautiful, as was usually the case with those chosen by the Cistercians. Unlike most of the great abbeys despoiled by the iconoclasts of the Dispersal, Ford fell into the hands of successive families who have added to and embellished the great