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Date for Summer 2022 crawl in Winchester. with Tris39 on the Pub Forum

Haunch of Venison, Salisbury

1 Minster Street
Phone: 01722411313

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Pub SignMan left this review about Haunch of Venison

This is a fantastic multi-roomed heritage pub in the centre of Salisbury, set across three levels. You enter through a small front porch with some nice etched glass double doors, into a very cosy front bar with a chequered tile floor, beautiful full height wood panelled walls with the odd bit of exposed brick and timber here and there, and a small servery to the right. The bar counter uses the same panelling as the walls, beneath a fairly high canopy with a ‘Live Eels’ sign on it and topped with a few decorative barrels. The nice mirrored bar back houses the handpulls in two banks of two and there’s a very nice old beer font at the right-hand end of the bar. The front right corner acts as a cosy little snug, with its own small doorway and enough space for a lone table and just a handful of customers. The rest of the room has hard bench seating to the front and rear, supplemented by a few low stools. A fine brick fireplace dominates the left-hand wall, with a lit stove inside on my February visit, beneath a nice decorative carved mantle. A few traditional paintings, books, clocks, lamps and the like add to the traditional, historic feel of the room and this aesthetic continues up some steps to the rear, where another seating area can be found. It’s another cosy space with standard tables and chairs, darker wood panelling and a second lit fire on the end wall. A staircase to the right leads up to a first floor dining room, which I didn’t explore on this occasion. Sadly, I was unable to locate the pub’s most famous feature - a mummified hand supposedly belonging to a customer who had been discovered cheating at cards - but I had seen it on a previous visit 15 or so years ago and I’m told it is still on display somewhere, after being stolen a couple of times in the past.
All four handpulls were in operation when I visited, offering a choice of Stonehenge Danish Dynamite, Butcombe Original, Exmoor Stag and Wye Valley HPA. A bored looking barman served me a well-kept half of the latter at £2.20 and I enjoyed this whilst chatting to a couple of the jovial locals who were surprisingly knowledgeable about the pub’s history.
I suspect this place feels like a bit of a tourist trap during peak season, but visiting on a relatively quiet Monday afternoon, I feel I really saw this place at its best. It’s a pub that rewards repeat visits, as the multiple rooms and plentiful features take time to fully explore. The beer choice has improved since I was last here too and their regular listing in the Good Beer Guide suggests the ale quality is consistent. I really enjoyed this visit and would say it’s a ‘must do’ when visiting the city.

On 21st February 2022 - rating: 8
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Gill Smith left this review about Haunch of Venison

A quick visit here found real ales from Hop Back, GFB and Summer Lightning, plus Exmoor Fox which we chose and was fine. Very busy pub which seemed popular with locals giving a friendly vibe. Would have loved the time to explore the rooms in this old inventory pub but so many places to go to in a short time.

On 12th May 2019 - rating: 7
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Blackthorn _ left this review about Haunch of Venison

An old and attractive looking pub in the heart of Salisbury, it’s equally attractive internally and consists of a couple of quite small rooms, along with an upstairs restaurant area, although we did not investigate this.

The main bar at the front of the pub is quite small with only room for about four tables. The walls and fully wood panelled making it reminiscent perhaps of an old hotel drawing room, and there was also an attractive beamed ceiling and black and white chequered tiling on the floor. Top the right was an even tinier snug, which although accessed from the pub porchway rather than the main bar, also had access to the bar counter. A large fireplace off to the left had wood carvings built in to the mantle which was an attractive feature and contained what looked to be a wood burning stove was off to the left, although the fact that it had an engineer’s notice on it declaring it unsafe and not to be used perhaps indicated that it was just a gas replica. Padded bench seating was around much of the perimeter, and the beer engines were unusually free standing behind the bar counter, rather than affixed to it. There were also some old whisky and brandy barrels up above the bar, and a good selection of whisky behind it. A second room up a few steps at the rear was equally compact and looked equally cosy.

Beers on tap were GFB and Summer Lightning from Hop Back, Courage Best and Exmoor Fox. Cider choice was disappointing though with just Symonds Founders Reserve, which rather marred what would otherwise have been a truly excellent pub.

On 28th December 2018 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1802 recommendations about 1726 pubs]

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Bucking Fastard left this review about Haunch of Venison

Exquisite traditional pub and on the CAMRA national inventory of historic pub interiors.It's a very old building and at the entrance to the right is a seperate etched glass door to the tiny HorseBox,formerly a Ladies Snug when only blokes were allowed into the main body of the pub.There is bench seating,room for one table and bar access.
The rest of the tap room is covered in wood panelling,there is a welcome log burner while the bar is unusual,with spirit taps on a raised arch,with more along one wall possibly for wine although not used as such these days.4 handpumps are also attached to the side cabinets rather than on the bar.
Up some steps there is a charming back lounge,again with it's own fire and the mummified hand of a card cheat locked behind a grill to the original bread oven.That sort of summary justice would certainly stop premiership footballers diving these days !
On the first floor there is a restaurant and the food options are drawn from a bar menu available downstairs and an a la carte menu in the restaurant ,although these dishes can be enjoyed downstairs.Slightly expensive but well cooked.However the bar rooms retain a pub atmosphere,despite some muzak playing at modest volume.
On my trip the ale selection was regulars Hop Back Summer Lightening and GFB and Courage Best (why?) with a guest Exmoor Fox.My first Summer Lightening was fine despite being end of barrel but the second pint from the new barrel hadn't been given enough time to settle and condition which was a shame.
If in Salisbury you must pop in here,it may attract tourists but there is so much charm and history ,terrific when quiet .

On 17th December 2018 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2338 recommendations about 2338 pubs]

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Real Ale Ray left this review about Haunch of Venison

Pretty quiet on our Friday afternoon visit, still we were slightly out of the mid summer tourist madness. The small amount of tourists on our visit, had taken themselves upstairs to the restaurant for a bit to eat. This gave easy access to have a good nose around. I noticed there was a large amount of small taps in clusters along the back and side of the bar area. The barman explained that many moons ago, that they would have been connected to flasks containing various spirits, most probably gin and this was a fast way of dispensing the spirits. Four handpumps Exmoor Gold, Courage Best, Hopback Summer Lightning and Hopback GFB. We went for the Hopback GFB at £4 a pint.

On 21st May 2017 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3092 recommendations about 3092 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about Haunch of Venison

This pub is certainly worth inclusion on any crawl of Salisbury, very interesting interior as previously described, it is quite tiny so getting here about half an hour after opening on a Thursday Morning was probably a good move.Four beers were available, Courage Best ,Ringwood Best and two from Hopback, my choice of Hopback GFB at £3.60 a pint was nowhere near the most expensive of the day and even further from the cheapest, it was however quite acceptable and I would include this pub on a return visit to Salisbury.

On 8th August 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1559 recommendations about 1540 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Haunch Of Venison

Salisbury’s most ‘tourist tick-box’ pub, which is claimed to be around 600 years old and is listed in CAMRA’s list of heritage interiors. Situated over a number of floors, the ground floor houses the main bar whilst the first floor mezzanine holds a small drinking area which is also home to the mummified hand (to the left as you reach the top of the stairs, in a glass fronted hole in the wall). Up another flight of stairs is a restaurant area. The ground floor area is very attractive, with a solid pewter bar, oak panelled walls, chessboard flooring and a real fire. There is an interesting sign above the bar advertising live eels – one assumes that these are no longer available. Drink-wise, an unadventurous three ales (for Salisbury) were on; Hop Back, Courage Best and a Ringwood, alongside a number of single malt whiskies. Beer quality is ok but nothing to write home about. Prices for the beer come in (perhaps unsurprisingly) as the most expensive of the day. Seating is at a premium most hours.

I enjoyed it here as a tourist and would make a point of popping for a quick half to take in the atmosphere (when quiet). Whether I’d make much of an effort to drink here if I were a local is a different matter.

On 18th August 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 4401 recommendations about 4387 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Haunch Of Venison

The Haunch is probably Salisbury’s best known pub and naturally a big hit for visitors. Unfortunately the prices are designed to maximize on its popularity which does take the shine off what is a fabulous pub soaked in several century’s worth of stories and atmosphere.

The pub is listed in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors and there are several treats in store for anyone interested in such heritage. The main bar has chessboard flooring lifted direct from the Cathedral where it had past its sell by date. The walls are oak paneled and contain a superb fireplace and be sure not to take a look at the “horsebox” a tiny snug by the bar originally for ladies use only and probably just enough room for 4 or 5 people. It is claimed that Churchill and Eisenhower used to meet here. The bar itself contains a rare spirits dispenser, only the second I have ever seen in a pub.

The staircase to the rear lead to a small room on the left known as the House Of Lords, a throwback to the days when people of importance and status were offered seating in the higher areas of the pub. This characterful room has a low ceiling, bare floors, dark paneled walls, basic furniture and at the end, a large beamed fireplace with a stove and a small bread oven. It is in the oven behind a glazed and barred panel that you will find infamous mummified hand said to belong to a card player caught cheating. If you carry on up the stairs you get to the restaurant. I took a quick peek but compared to the rest of the building it didn’t seem to be as interesting as the rest of the building.

The ales are not immediately obvious as the pumps are tucked away at the rear and side of the bar but there are generally 4 available, Hop Back GFB, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Greene King IPA and Courage Best being the options on my latest visit.

This is one of the country’s most interesting and appealing pubs although it can be quite uncomfortable when busy and despite the prices, it is worth the extra few pence for the experience.

On 7th November 2011 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1239 recommendations about 1233 pubs]

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E TA left this review about The Haunch Of Venison

One of Salisbury's oldest pubs, the Haunch has a mixed and colourful history. It is a notable Salisbury landmark, it was built as the church house for St Thomas's just around the corner and is thought to be aroud 600 years old. It has been a pub (and at times a brothel) for a couple of centuries or more and is on CAMRA's inventory of pub interiors. It has 3 bars, known among the locals as The Horsebox, Death Row and The House of Lords. he story of the hand is well documented. The restaurant upstairs is a separate business which also varies in quality and was once run by local chef Rupert Wilcox (RIP) as "One" (ie One Minster Street).

Its beer quality is inconsistent, so it rarely makes it into GBG. The last couple of pints I had - Hopback and Ringwood - were good. Recommended for its history and general interest, so I would drop in on a crawl then move somewhere else to enjoy better beer.

On 13th August 2010 - rating: 4
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Soup Dragon left this review about The Haunch Of Venison

A narrow terraced multi-level pub and restaurant in brick and white render

The reviews Roger's, OB's and Maldenman's reviews below have already covered pretty much of what i would say, but I will still throw my 'tuppence' in. The interior has a nesting of rooms really - three bar areas and a restuarant on the top floor. I saw two of the bar rooms - the small 'Horse Box' room i didn't see. We made for the 'House of Lords', a small room, wood panelled, which is up a small flight of steps en route to the restaurant. It houses the hand in a what i assume was a bread oven within a large brick fireplace - a photo has been supplied. The main bar had a chessboard floor and was in white and wood beam, with etched windows and a real fire (it was peeing it down outside). The service i found fine and the clientele deduced were locals on two accounts. 1. They all knew each other well enough to trump loudly (and often) 2. The piano player stopped when we walked in - but saying that, we were sent on our way with a a friendly goodbye.

Beer; tap stuff with Courage Best (decent) and Directors - but i think, like Roger, i missed a couple of taps.

I think i agree with what the other reviewers feel - as in, this place is more an experience - there are lots of other places in Salisbury that are as good, indeed better for beer choice - but this has something about it.

On 23rd May 2010 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 3067 recommendations about 3062 pubs]

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