Cheddar in 1836
CHEDDAR, a decayed village in Somersetshire, near the stupendous chasm in the Mendip Hills, known by name of Cheddar Cliffs. Cheddar is said to be derived from ced, a conspicuous brow, or height, and dwr, water. The village consists of three or four irregular streets. It was formerly a market-town. In one of the streets a beautiful old market-cross is still standing. The population of the parish in 1831 was 1980.
An extensive flat, called Cheddar Moor was, until within these few years, covered with British barrows, or tumuli ; but all trace of these has been destroyed by cultivation enclosure.
Cheddar Cliffs are the sides of a chasm, extending across one of the highest ridges of the Mendip Hills. ‘The chasm across the diameter of Mendip is mere than a mile in length. The opening yawns from the summit to the roots of the mountain, laying open a sublime and tremendous scene, exhibiting a combination of precipices, rocks, and caverns of terrifying descent, fantastic form, and gloomy vacuity. The approach from the village is extremely picturesque.’ (Rutter's Delineations of the North-Western Division of Somerset.)
The entrance to one of the caves in these cliffs is nearly 100 feet above the valley; and it is stated to penetrate wards of 300 feet beneath the rocks. A rough carriage road winds for nearly two miles through the cliffs, until it reaches the summit of the hills.
Nine springs rise from the foot of the rocks, and almost immediately uniting, form a clear and beautiful stream, called Cheddar Water, which fills into the river Ax.
The greater part of the land between Axbridge and Cheddar has the appearance of a continued garden. It is sheltered by the Mendip Hills on the N. and E., and is chiefly occupied in the culture of vegetables, large quantities of which are obtained early in the season, and forwarded to Bristol.