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Picture of Bunch Of Grapes
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Submitted on Sunday, 29th December 2019
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Bunch Of Grapes, Southampton

St. Peters Street
Bishops Waltham
Postal town: Southampton
SO32 1AD
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Reviews of Bunch Of Grapes (Average Rating: 8 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

John Bonser left this review about The Bunch Of Grapes

Situated in the small rural Hampshire town of Bishops Waltham ( accessible by bus from Winchester, Eastleigh, Southampton etc ), The Bunch of Grapes occupies a position in the middle of a narrow picturesque street of cottages at the end of the High Street and which leads up to St Peters Church.

It’s a small cottage style pub that is utterly in keeping with the surroundings. Outside, we learn that it’s a free house established in 1911.

As we enter through the lowish front door, we find ourselves in what feels a bit like someone’s front room.

It’s a basic simple pub with 2 smallish rooms side by side. The main room has half height light pine wood panelling ( which doesn’t look original ) and is decorated with various pictures of the pub in its former days as a Courage pub and also as an Ushers pub. A brewery mirror – Hartridges Alliance Brewery of Hambledon – indicates perhaps even earlier ownership. A framed article from a previous edition of Whats Brewing tells us that the building dates back to the 16th century, although the interior doesn’t have a particularly old pub feel to it. We also learn that it’s been a pub for over 150 years now and has been in the same family for over 90 years. At the end of the larger room is a dartboard with a collection of trophies on a shelf.

The private house feel to the place extends to the small terraced garden at the back where, on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, the family washing was hanging out to dry. A bucket full of golf balls by the end of the small lawn indicates that putting practice might take place here ( the pub has a thriving golf society ), although the state of the grass would make this challenging. Bunting from the Royal Wedding several months ago still decorated the small smokers shelter. The gents toilets are housed in what looks at first glance to be the garden shed.

Despite its attractive central position, it’s very much a locals pub and doesn’t appear to set out to attract non regulars or passing custom. There’s no kitchen, for example, for meals which doesn’t help. Based on my visit, it’s clearly one of those pubs where everyone knows everyone else, warts and all, and the occasional visitor who crosses the threshold immediately stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Whenever I come in a pub like this on my own, even now as an experienced pub goer, I still find it difficult to know how to behave. Do I immediately attempt to join in the conversation at the bar or do I recognise the fact that I’m a passing stranger, respect the fact that you’re among locals who have been drinking here for years and, at the risk of being accused of being unsociable, find a quiet corner to sit in without disturbing them.

My usual tactic now ( which doesn’t always work incidentally ), is, having bought my pint, to hover around by the bar area and wait to see if I get naturally drawn into the conversation, smiling politely, but weakly, if any of the group make eye contact with me. The problem of course is that conversation in a small rural pub like this is often of a very parochial nature ( eg – the size of Fred’s runner beans, Doris’s recent hernia operation, who’s manning the home made cake stall at next weeks fete …etc ?). which makes integrating into the conversation rather challenging, even for the most gregarious and outgoing individual. This proved to be the case on my visit and, after a short slightly awkward conversation with mine host and hostess and the several other customers, I retired to a small cosy corner of the room.

Real ale is served direct from the cask from a rack behind the bar. Two real ales were on – Courage Best and Goddards ( Isle of Wight ).- which, according to the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, would appear to be the regular offerings, although I gather that a third beer is sometimes available. All drinks are pricey here – a price list is displayed outside – Guinness for instance is £ 4.30p and lagers are around the £ 4 mark. I gather that this pricing policy is deliberately designed to discourage the less desirable elements. Disappointingly, this pricing policy extends to the real ales and both the Courage Best and the Goddards weighed in at a rather hefty £ 3.90p. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular – the 20 year certificate is on display – but I didn’t think either beer was particularly inspiring on my visit. Goddards is a pale, straw coloured bitter, but didn’t seem to have much in the way of flavour or distinctiveness at all.

I quite enjoyed the visit, but I accept it won’t appeal to everybody. If you’re in the area, you might want to seek it out, but be mindful of the restricted opening hours and the fact that, even during those hours, it may close if quiet

On 5th July 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

External web links for Bunch Of Grapes

No known official website for this pub.

Pub location see interactive map of local area
Map location is best guess
Botley, 3.5 miles, 1 hr 7 min walk (show)
Hedge End, 4.97 miles, 1 hr 35 min walk (show)
Swanwick, 6.95 miles, 2 hr 14 min walk (show)
Latest updates View all updates for Bunch Of Grapes, Bishops Waltham
29th Dec 2019, 16:36
Picture submitted by paulof horsham approved
29th Dec 2019, 16:36
Picture submitted by paulof horsham approved

Pub Details

Pub details supplied by members of this site to the best of their knowledge. Please check with pub directly before making a special trip.

  • Real Ale : Yes last updated 05 July 2011 by Alan Hurdle
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