Cheddar: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°16′43″N 2°46′40″W / 51.2785°N 2.7777°W / 51.2785; -2.7777

Roofs of multiple buildings separated by trees and vegetation. In the distance is a lake and hills.
Cheddar village looking due west from the tower at Jacob's Ladder
Cheddar is located in Somerset

 Cheddar shown within Somerset
Population 5,724 [1]
OS grid reference ST458535
District Sedgemoor
Shire county Somerset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CHEDDAR
Postcode district BS27
Dialling code 01934
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Wells
List of places: UK • England • Somerset

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, 9 miles (14 km) north-west of Wells. The civil parish includes the hamlets of Nyland and Bradley Cross.

Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the United Kingdom and includes several show caves. It has been the setting for a major centre of human settlement since Neolithic times, including a Saxon palace. It also provides a unique geological and biological environment which has been recognised by the designation of several Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The village gave its name to Cheddar cheese and has also been a major centre for strawberry growing. It is now a major tourist destination and large village with several cultural and community facilities.



There is evidence of occupation from both the Neolithic and Roman periods in Cheddar.[2] There is some evidence of a Bronze Age field system at the Batts Combe quarry site.[3] The remains of a Roman villa have been excavated in the grounds of the current vicarage.[4]

In the 10th century, the Witenagemot met three times at the Saxon palace in Cheddar.[5][6] 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.[7] Roman remains have also been uncovered at the site.[8]

Cheddar was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ceder, meaning 'Shear Water' from the Old English scear and Celtic dwr.[9] An alternative possible meaning is from Ceodre or ceod meaning a pouch referring to the caves or gorge.[10]

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.[11]

In 1801, 4,400 acres (18 km2) of common land were enclosed under the Inclosure Acts.[12]



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.

The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.

District and county

Cheddar Fire Station has a crew of retained firefighters

The village falls within the Non-metropolitan district of Sedgemoor, which was formed on April 1, 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Axbridge Rural District,[13] which is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, the library, roads, public transport, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning, although fire, police and ambulance services are provided jointly with other authorities through the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Great Western Ambulance Service.

National and international

It is also part of the Wells county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects six MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Cheddar is twinned with Felsberg in Germany and Vernouillet in France. It has an active programme of exchange visits:


Cheddar Gorge circa 1907

Gorge and caves

Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the United Kingdom[14] near the village of Cheddar in the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. The gorge is the site of the Cheddar Caves, where Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, estimated to be 9,000 years old, was found in 1903.[15] Older remains from the Upper Late Palaeolithic era (12,000–13,000 years ago) have been found.[16] The caves, produced by the activity of an underground river, contain stalactites and stalagmites.

Cheddar Gorge, including Cox's Cave, Gough's Cave and other attractions, has become a tourist destination, attracting about 500,000 visitors per year.[17] In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, following its appearance on the 2005 television programme Seven Natural Wonders, Cheddar Gorge was named as the second greatest natural wonder in Britain, surpassed only by Dan yr Ogof caves.[18]

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Cheddar Reservoir at dusk looking towards the western edge of the Mendip Hills and Crook Peak

There are several large and unique Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) around the village.

Cheddar Reservoir is a circular artificial reservoir operated by Bristol Water. Dating from the 1930s it has a capacity of 135 million gallons (614,000 cubic metres). The reservoir is supplied with water taken from the Cheddar Yeo river in Cheddar Gorge. The inlet grate for the 54 inches (1.4 m) water pipe that is used to transport the water can be seen next to the sensory garden in Cheddar Gorge. It has been designated as a SSSI due to its wintering waterfowl populations.[19]

Cheddar Wood and the smaller Macall's Wood form a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest from what remains of the wood of the Bishops of Bath and Wells in the thirteenth century and of King Edmund the Magnificent's wood in the tenth. During the nineteenth century its lower fringes were grubbed out to make strawberry fields, most of which have reverted to woodland. It was coppiced until 1917.[20] This site compromises a wide range of habitats which includes ancient and secondary semi-natural broadleaved woodland, unimproved neutral grassland and a complex mosaic of calcareous grassland and acidic dry dwarf-shrub heath. Cheddar Wood is one of only a few English stations for Starved Wood-sedge (Carex depauperata).[21] The nationally rare Purple Gromwell (Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum) is also present, growing in the lane along the west side of the wood.[21] Butterflies include Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia), Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja), Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), Holby Blue (Celastrina argiolus) and Brown Argus (Aricia agestis). The slug (Arion fasciatus), which has a restricted distribution in the south of England, and the Soldier beetle (Cantharis fusca) also occur.[22]

By far the largest of the SSSis is called Cheddar Complex and covers 441.3 hectares (1,090.5 acres) of the gorge, caves and the surrounding area. It is considered important for both biological and geological features. It which includes 4 SSSIs formerly known as Cheddar Gorge SSSI, August Hole/Longwood Swallet SSSI, GB Cavern Charterhouse SSSI and Charterhouse on-Mendip SSSI.[23] It is part owned by the National Trust and part managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust.


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. Batts Combe has been operating since the early 20th century and is owned and operated by Hanson Aggregates. The output in 2005 was around 4,000 tonnes of limestone per day, one third of which was supplied to an on-site lime kiln, the remainder was sold as coated or dusted aggregates. The limestone at this site is close to 99% carbonate of calcium and magnesium (dolomite).[24]


The village gave its name to Cheddar cheese,[25] which is the most popular type of cheese in the United Kingdom.[26] 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 its name to the now disused Strawberry Line railway that opened in 1869 to carry strawberries from Cheddar. The line closed in the 1960s, when it became part of the Cheddar Valley Railway Nature Reserve.[27] and ran from Yatton to Wells. 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, providing a fast link with the main markets for the strawberries in Birmingham and London, finally closing in 1964.[28]

Cheddar Ales is a small brewery, based in the village, which produces beer for pubs in the local area. Its owner and head brewer, Jem Ham, previously worked 15 years at Butcombe Brewery in nearby Wrington.[29]

Cheddar village also has a Youth Hostel and several camping/caravan sites, including several large ones with many facilities.


Market cross

Photochrom of Cheddar Market Cross in the 1890s

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.[30] 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,[31] is a Grade II listed building that is used by the local community as a meeting place.

The Kings of Wessex School seen from the tower of St. Andrew's Church (looking north west)


There are three schools: Cheddar First School, Fairlands Middle School and The Kings of Wessex School, a coeducational comprehensive school. It has 1,197 students aged 13–18[32] (including 302 in the 6th form), of all ability levels. It is run as a Church of England foundation school. It was awarded the specialist status of Technology College in 2001, enabling it to develop its IT facilities and improve courses in Science, Mathematics and Design Technology. The school also owns and runs a sports centre and swimming pool, Kings Fitness & Leisure, with facilities that are used by its students and the pupils of other schools in the surrounding area.

Religious sites

The Church of St Andrew 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 is dated 1442.[33] The tower, which rises to 100 feet (30 m),[4] contains a bell dating from 1759 and made by Thomas Bilbie of the Bilbie family.[34]

There are also churches for Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and other denominations, including Cheddar Valley Community Church who not only meet at the Kings of Wessex, senior school on Sunday, but also have their own site on Tweentown for meeting during the week.

Culture and community

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.[35]


  1. ^ "Parish Population Statistics for Sedgemoor". ONS Census 2001. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  2. ^ "Mendip Hills An Archaeological Survey of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (PDF). Somerset County Council Archaeological Projects. Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  3. ^ "Mendip Hills: An Archaeological Survey of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty". Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  4. ^ a b Leete-Hodge, Lornie (1985). Curiosities of Somerset. Bodmin: Bossiney Books. pp. 20. ISBN 0906456983. 
  5. ^ Russett, Vince. "Cheddar History". South West Archaeological Services. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  6. ^ Rahtz, Phillip. "The Saxon and Medieval Palaces at Cheddar, Somerset - an Interim Report of Excavations in 1960-62" (PDF). Archaeology Data Service. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  7. ^ "Former chapel dedicated to St Columbanus". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  8. ^ "School dig uncovers Roman grave". BBC News. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  9. ^ Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimborne, Dorset: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1874336032. 
  10. ^ "Autumn newsletter 2007" (PDF). Mendip Hills AONB. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  11. ^ Coysh, A.W.; E.J. Mason & V. Waite (1977). The Mendips. London: Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0709164262. 
  12. ^ Havinden, Michael (1982). The Somerset Landscape. The making of the English landscape. London: Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 133. ISBN 0340201169. 
  13. ^ A Vision of Britain Through Time : Axbridge Rural District
  14. ^ "Cheddar Gorge: Not entirely cheesy". Geotimes, a publication of the American Geological Institute. May 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  15. ^ "Tourist hotspots - Cheddar Gorge". BBC. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  16. ^ "Somerset Historic Environment Record". Somerset County Council. January 1983. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  17. ^ "Access Q&A: Cheddar Gorge". British Mountaineering Council. 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  18. ^ "Caves win 'natural wonder' vote". BBC. 2005-08-02. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  19. ^ English Nature SSSI information for Cheddar Reservoir
  20. ^ Aston, Michael (1988). Aspects of the medieval landscape of Somerset. Somerset County Council. p. 30. ISBN 0861831292. 
  21. ^ a b Twist, Colin, Rare Plants in Great Britain - a site guide
  22. ^ "Cheddar Wood". English Nature. Retrieved 2006-07-17. 
  23. ^ "The Cheddar Complex". English Nature. Retrieved 2006-07-17. 
  24. ^ Atthill, Robin (1976). Mendip: A new study. Newton Abbott: David & Charles. ISBN 0715372971. 
  25. ^ Smale, Will (21 August 2006). "Separating the curds from the whey". BBC Radio 4 Open Country. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  26. ^ "The Interview - Lactalis McLelland's 'Seriously': driving the Cheddar market". The Grocery Trader. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  27. ^ "Strawberry Line". Forest of Avon. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  28. ^ Gerald Daniels and L.A.Dench. Passengers No More (1974 ed.). Ian Allan. p. 16. 
  29. ^ "Discovering Cheddar Ales" (PDF). Pints West No. 72 Winter 2006/2007 edition. CAMRA Bristol. pp. 7. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  30. ^ "Market Cross". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  31. ^ "Hannah More's Cottage". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  32. ^ "The Kings of Wessex School". Ofsted. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  33. ^ "Church of St. Andrew". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  34. ^ Moore, James; Roy Rice & Ernest Hucker (1995). Bilbie and the Chew Valley clock makers. The authors. ISBN 0952670208. 
  35. ^ Residential: St Michael’s

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHEDDAR, a small town in the Wells parliamentary division of Somersetshire, England, 22 m. S.W. of Bristol by a branch of the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901) 1975. The town, with its Perpendicular church and its picturesque market-cross, lies below the south-western face of the Mendip Hills, which rise sharply from 600 to Soo ft. To the west stretches the valley of the river Axe, broad, low and flat. A fine gorge opening from the hills immediately upon the site of the town is known as Cheddar cliffs from the sheer walls which flank it; the contrast of its rocks and rich vegetation, and the falls of a small stream traversing it, make up a beautiful scene admired by many visitors. Several stalactitical caverns are also seen, and prehistoric British and Roman relics discovered in and near them are preserved in a small museum. The two caverns most frequently visited are called respectively Cox's and Gough's; in each, but especially in the first, there is a remarkable collection of fantastic and beautiful stalactitical forms. There are other caverns of greater extent but less beauty, but their extent is not completely explored. The remains discovered in the caves give evidence of British and Roman settlements at Cheddar (Cedre, Chedare), which was a convenient trade centre. The manor of Cheddar was a royal demesne in Saxon times, and the witenagemot was held there in 966 and 968. It was granted by John in 1204 to Hugh, archdeacon of Wells, who sold it to the bishop of Bath and Wells in 1229, whose successors were overlords until 1 553, when the bishop granted it to the king. It is now owned by the marquis of Bath. By a charter of 1231 extensive liberties in the manor of Cheddar were granted to Bishop Joceline, who by a charter of 1235 obtained the right to hold a weekly market and fair. By a charter of Edward III. (1337) Cheddar was removed from the king's forest of Mendip. The market was discontinued about 1690. Fairs are now held on the 4th of May and the 29th of October under the original grants. The name of Cheddar is given to a well-known species of cheese (see Dairy), the manufacture of which began in the 17th century in the town and neighbourhood.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also cheddar



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Proper noun




  1. a village in Somerset, England famous for its cheese, and also for its gorge, caves and remains of early man found in them
  2. Cheddar cheese


Simple English

Cheddar is a type of hard cheese made from cow's milk. Its name comes from a village in the county of Somerset in England, where the cheese was first made. Many other countries, such as the United States and Canada make cheddar cheese.

[[File:|right|thumb|Cheddar cheese]]

= History

= The first record of cheddar cheese dates back to the 12th century[1]

How it is made

Cheddar cheese is different from other cheeses in how it is made. After the curds are heated, they are cut and stacked. The stacks are then turned periodically and re-stacked. This process is called cheddaring.

Cheddar cheese is sometimes aged in caves for up to 30 months before it is ready to eat.[2]



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