Somerset's Fascinating Facts - The extraordinary history of the Old Vicarage Hotel

29 Jul 2020

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History of The Old Vicarage Hotel
No. 45 Somerset's Fascinating Facts - The extraordinary history of the Old Vicarage Hotel, Bridgwater - 
The Old Vicarage Hotel is made up of 4 different cottages, the first of the cottages was built in 1327, making, The Old Vicarage the oldest commercial building and the second oldest building in Bridgwater. The oldest building is the church opposite the hotel. St Mary's Church was built in what we believe to be the late 1200’s. This due to a record commenting on a Vicar called Richard in 1280, this is the earliest record the town has on the history of the church.

One of the most interesting rooms in the hotel really shows off the hotels huge depth of history, due to the original wood beams and mantlepiece, which we call the ‘Oak Room’. The Oak Room was built in 1734, indicated by the wooden carving above the mantlepiece. The Old Vicarage was given to Edward De Chedzoy in the 1600’s where it remained a vicarage until about 100 years ago. It is believed in the Oak Room, under the original flooring, is a door, leading to some tunnels behind the property, leading out to Friarn Street, where a monastery was said to have resided. The Monks are reported to have used the tunnels from the monastery, under The Old Vicarage, to St Mary Church, to meet with the Nuns of the Church, although, this is just a rumour and has never been proven!
The Oak Room was also used by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who sat and drew the designs for the train station and the town bridge in Bridgwater. Brunel being possibly Englands most famous Engineer of all time!

Another historical figure has been mentioned to have stayed at The Old Vicarage, albeit a rumour, Judge George Jeffreys. Judge Jeffreys, was notoriously famous for ‘The Bloody Assizes’, he was sent to the West Country in the autumn 1685 by King James II, to conduct trials for the rebel troops who fought for the Duke of Monmouth during the Battle of Sedgemoor.
Room number 7, is said to be very haunted. Within the room, the wardrobe was actually a priest hiding hole. Priest holes were concealed spots created especially for Priests, so they could hide away safely during a time when Catholics were persecuted. Under Queen Elizabeth I, Priests were often imprisoned, tortured, and even killed. Possibly in this room?
A few of the hotel guests have mentioned that whilst staying in room 7, they have felt a hand on their shoulder, turned round to see nobody was there. No-7-(1).jpg
Some staff have also reported seeing a woman walking between the Oak Room to the kitchen door, dressed in 17th Century attire.
The original building is made up of wattle and daub, which you can see in a wooden frame at the front of the building and through the archway. 

Many things have been added to The Old Vicarage over many years, one of which you will find at the front of the property, a bottle shape hole. The bottle shape hole in the building is believed to be for stage coaches in the Victorian era, put there, for when people rode past the building, they could grab a bottle of drink to take away on their journey, the exact date of this has not been understood yet.
The Old Vicarage, in 1925,  turned into a local tea shop to Bridgwater, Steynings Tea Shop. Steynings Tea Shop was around for many years, the elder generation of Bridgwater remember coming here with their families and friends and always speak fondly of the smell of fresh roasted coffee in the mornings when they would get ready to go to school, walking past Steynings Tea Shop.
Current day, Peter Starling and Candida Leaver, formerly from The Bower Inn, Bridgwater, have taken over the hotel and renovated The Old Vicarage Hotel on 29th January 2019 to add to its long, interesting history. 

All our welcome to this pandoras box of incredible history and you'll always be greeted with a really warm welcome, whether your staying, having a drink or coming for dinner.  We look forward to seeing you soon!  
Somerset's Fascinating Facts - The extraordinary history of the Old Vicarage Hotel
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