Although we have been to Cheddar many times, we hadn’t been for a good wander round the actual town very often; last time we visited, we went into the lovely old church of St Andrew. The actual church that we went to is about seven hundred years old – and that was a new church in the 1300’s, built on the site of an older church, which was on an older church still, and before that there was an even older place where people met to worship. Looking up at the ceiling of the nave, and we were looking at a fourteenth century ceiling… The first church – and who knows when there was first some sort of place for Christians to gather, was built on the site of a much older construction – a Roman settlement. In the same area, much later, centuries later, a Saxon settlement grew up.
The church itself is quite big, but it has a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere; it still has a rood screen, or part of it, and many other interesting features, including a wonderful fifteenth century pulpit, a younger font, curious corbel heads (corbels support the roof braces and have been decorated with kings and bishops heads – maybe the same king or bishop, I’m not quite sure!) The ends of the pews are also carved – some hundred bench ends, almost five hundred years old, some of them! Other old objects are the double piscina (thirteenth century) the tomb of Sir Thomas de Cheddre, and a statue of St Andrew, which is believed to be from the sixteenth century.
There are several chapels, the lady Chapel, the Trinity Chapel and St Nectan’s chapel; St Nectan was supposedly born in Devon in the fifth century – but maybe he was born in Ireland and moved to Wales, and then to the west country. He was a hermit, living by a spring or well; apparently he was beheaded by some robbers who stole his cattle; as a holy man he was able to pick up his head and walk back to his spring where he then died… but the site of his death became a place of pilgrimage. Now he has a chapel in Cheddar church.