10% discount on all food for hotel residents Monday-Friday.

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!
Today, as well as celebrating ALL women, we want to highlight a very important one to all of us here at the Old Vicarage Hotel.
Determined |  Kind | Exotic | Fun
These are the first 4 words that came to our mind when asked to describe Candida Leaver.
This actually might read more like an episode of *This Is Your Life* but it’s more to reflect the varied and vivid life that eventually brought Candy to Bridgwater.
Candida spent much of her early adult years living abroad and travelling. Her late teens saw her living in Paris as an Au Pair when she first tapped into her natural talent for languages. She was later an Au Pair in Italy leading to artist modelling in Venice, living on the Grand Canal in a palace and spending time in Rome.
She returned to England (London) for various jobs, but was soon off again taking Coach Tours around Europe. This led to running a large Chalet in the French Alps and on to holiday villas in Corsica. This was the period in which Candida began to develop her love for and supernatural skill for cooking.
Later in life Candida would be owning and running a small chain of very successful food led pubs in the Penzance area. This, in the eighties, way before anyone had heard of Gastro Pubs! A return to London meant further work in hospitality, running the kitchen for the directors of a Blue Chip company and cooking for all types including ambassadors and celebrities.
In the late nineties, now married to Peter, they left London to renovate and run a Country Pub/Hotel in Berkshire. Four years of great success having built a business up from nowhere they left for France – a life-long ambition of Peters – to live near family and enjoy a new lifestyle.
This period saw a change in direction – specialising in one of their other skills – Candida and Peter set up a development company and spent almost 8 years buying and renovating various properties in The Languedoc Region of Southern France. Candida was able to use another of her many skills by designing and decorating all these properties.
2010 was a return to England. Parachuting into Bridgwater, buying The Bower Inn, another closed business. The couple were able to use all their skills of development, design and hospitality to build successful business. 2015 saw the completion of an 11-bedroom extension – Candida able to design these and source some amazing pieces to give individuality and style to every room.  The Bower was sold in 2017 and Candida and Peter returned to France for the best part of a year. They then returned to Bridgwater, recognising the renaissance the town was beginning, mostly catalysed by the Hinkley Point C project.
The Old Vicarage, once again, an under performing hospitality business, was purchased and the total renovation project began in January 2019.
All of Candida’s amazing skills and knowledge came into play: design, décor, gardening, food and people. Her years of collecting having paid off with multiple interesting and unique pictures, fabrics and antiques used in the quirky fun ambience of The Old Vicarage.
Four years on – COVID defeated and owning a successful growing business, Candida continues to be the fun, generous, strong, and beautiful woman that she has always been.
Happy International Women’s Day!

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