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Everyone has heard of Cheddar, if only because of the cheese. These days, the cheese is probably the least of the attractions as so-called cheddar cheese is manufactured all over the world. But real Cheddar is still one of the world’s best cheeses and has been made here since at least the 12th century. The village of Cheddar is an ancient settlement, on the edge of the Somerset Levels, which still has the remains of a Saxon Royal Palace, now within the grounds of the Kings of Wessex School.

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This has long been the centre of a thriving agricultural economy. There were originally several small manors along the Cheddar Yeo, each with its own mill. There were settlements here in Roman and Saxon days, and probably even earlier. Along with other towns and villages in this area, Cheddar was once involved in the large scale production of textiles.

Cheddar has a mixture of old cottages and later properties. The market cross is very interesting and there is a 14th century parish church, among other historic buildings. It is a great centre from which to visit many other interesting places such as England’s smallest city, Wells, and Glastonbury, with its Arthurian and other associations. It is also handy for the seaside at Weston-Super-Mare, and only half an hour from the shops and night life of Bristol. The village has a large number of pubs and various accommodation for tourists.

The River Yeo flows out from the beautiful Cheddar Gorge, which was named one of the four wonders of the world in the early 12th century. It is believed to have been cut by melting water in the summer periods during various Ice Ages in Europe over around two million years. The gorge is cut into carboniferous limestone, formed as long as 300 million years ago. This is Britain’s largest gorge, and the Cheddar Yeo in Gough’s Cave is Britain’s biggest underground river. The Gorge Cliffs are the highest inland limestone cliffs in Britain.

 

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