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booty cheddar

Cheddar

[ched-er]
Cheddar is a large village and civil parish in the district of Sedgemoor in the English county of Somerset. It is situated on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills north west of Wells.

Village status

Cheddar is a village. The adjacent settlement of Axbridge, although only about a third the population of Cheddar, is a town. This apparently illogical situation is explained by the relative importance of the two places in historic times. While Axbridge grew in importance as a centre for cloth manufacture in the Tudor period and gained a charter from King John, Cheddar remained a more dispersed mining and dairy-farming village until the advent of tourism and the arrival of the railway in the Victorian era.

This situation is unlikely to change in the near future, with the residents of both Axbridge and Cheddar proud of their settlements' respective status and the inevitable friendly local rivalry between the two.

Twinning

Cheddar is twinned with the following towns and has an active programme of exchange visits:

Local produce

The village is famous for having given its name to Cheddar cheese which is the most popular type of cheese in the United Kingdom. Although the cheese is now made worldwide, only one producer remains in the village itself.

Cheddar's other main produce is the strawberry, which gave name to the now disused Strawberry Line railway that ran from Yatton to Wells. In the 1960s, when the rest of the line was closed and all passenger services ceased, the section of the line between Cheddar and Yatton remained open for goods traffic, to provide a fast link with the main markets for the strawberries in Birmingham and London. The former station has become housing and a trading estate, and is the starting point for a cycle path along the old track to Axbridge, passing the Cheddar Reservoir, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its large population of wintering waterfowl, and the home of a sailing club.

Cheddar Ales is a small brewery, based in the village, which produces beer for pubs in the local area.

Landscape

Gorge and caves

Cheddar is also famous for Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in England, and for the Cheddar caves, including Cox's Cave, Tyning's Barrow Swallet and Gough's Cave where the remains of Cheddar Man were found. Nearby is Wookey Hole and Ebbor Gorge.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

There are several large and unique Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) around the village including Cheddar Reservoir and Cheddar Wood. By far the largest is called Cheddar Complex and covers of the gorge, caves and the surrounding area. It is considered important for both biological and geological features.

Quarries

Close to the village and gorge are Batts Combe quarry and Callow Rock quarry two of the active Quarries of the Mendip Hills where limestone is still extracted.

History

There is evidence of occupation from both the Neolithic and Roman periods in Cheddar. The remains of a Roman villa have been excavated in the grounds of the current vicarage. It was also the site of a Saxon Royal palace which has been fully excavated. Its outline has since been laid out in the grounds of The Kings of Wessex School, which was built on the site although not directly on the palace.

Cheddar was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ceder, meaning 'Shear Water' from the Old English scear and Celtic dwr. An alternative possible meaning is from Ceodre or ceod meaning a pouch referring to the caves or gorge.

William Wilberforce saw the poor conditions of the locals when he visited Cheddar in 1789. He inspired Hannah More in her work to improve the conditions of the Mendip miners and agricultural workers.

Amenities

Cheddar has a number of active service clubs including Cheddar Vale Lions Club, Mendip Rotary and Mendip Inner Wheel Club. The clubs raise money for projects in the local community and hold annual events such as a fireworks display, duck races in the Gorge, a dragon boat race on the reservoir and concerts in the grounds of the nearby St Michael's Cheshire Home.

There are three schools: Cheddar First School, Fairlands Middle School and The Kings of Wessex School, which has a leisure centre with an indoor swimming pool. Cheddar village also has a Youth Hostel and several camping/caravan sites, including several large ones with many facilities. There is a Church of England parish church with a tall tower in the typical Somerset style, and also churches for Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and other denominations, including a community Church which meets at the Kings of Wessex, senior school.

Notable buildings and structures

Saxon palace

In the 10th century the Witenagemot met three times at the Saxon palace in Cheddar. The ruins of the palace were excavated in the 1960s and are located in the grounds of The Kings of Wessex School, together with a 14th century chapel dedicated to St Columbanus. Roman remains have also been uncovered at the site.

St Andrew's Church

The Church of England parish church is dedicated to St Andrew and dates from the 14th century. It was restored in 1873 by William Butterfield. It is a grade I listed building and contains some 15th century stained glass and an altar table of 1631. The chest tomb in the chancel is believed to be to Sir Thomas Cheddar and dated 1442. The tower, which rises to , contains a bell dating from 1759 and made by Thomas Bilbie of the Bilbie family.

Market cross

The market cross in Bath Street dates from the 15th century, with the shelter being rebuilt in 1834. It has a central octagonal pier, socket raised on four steps, hexagonal shelter with six arched four-centred arch openings, shallow two stage buttresses at each angle, and embattled parapet. The shaft is crowned by an abacus with figures in niches, probably from the late 19th century although the cross is now missing. Rebuilt by Thomas, Marquis of Bath. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (Somerset County No 21) and grade II* listed building. It was recently restored after being seriously damaged in a road traffic accident.

Hannah More's Cottage

Philanthropist educator Hannah More founded a school in the village in the late 18th century. Her first school, a 17th century house now named Hannah More's Cottage, is a grade II listed building that is used by the local community as a meeting place.

References

External links

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