Haunch Of Venison: One Of UK's Oldest (& Possibly Haunted) Pubs

Salisbury, a common stopping point for Stonehenge visitors, is home to a pub that is over 700 years old. Dating back to 1320, Haunch of Venison is one of the area's oldest hostelries, having first housed workers who were building the local cathedral. The bar has poured drinks through two World Wars and has even served pints to Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower. The three-story establishment has been a church house, brothel, and pub and continues to function as both bar and restaurant, with separate areas to accommodate guests. 

The House of Commons, a public bar area with bench seating and a fireplace, boasts a pewter surface that is one of only six in England. A carved wooden arch dons one of five gravity-fed spirit taps that can be found throughout the United Kingdom. The black-and-white tiled Horsebox, formerly a "snug" for women when public houses were intended only for men, and bar shelves that are at least 100 years old, provide ample touches of antiquity. But beyond the history of this pub, there are rumors of ghosts and supernatural happenings.

A serving of the supernatural

Tales of knives standing upright, pints floating in the air, and ghost sightings have simply added to the pub's appeal, though the most concrete of these supernatural stories is the mummified hand that is securely protected by an iron crate.

For being dead, the hand has had quite a lively existence and has made international headlines on separate occasions. Discovered during 1911 renovations, the hand has been stolen twice, first in 2004 and again in 2010 (it was returned on both occasions). As the story goes, an 18th-century card player ran out of luck when a butcher chopped off his hand after a large amount of cash was lost in a bet. 

But not to worry, if history, ghost tales, and rumors take a backseat to food and drink, you're in better shape than the unlucky gambler. In addition to brews and spirits, visitors at Haunch of Venison have plenty to feast upon. 

Paradise for protein lovers

A staircase leads to the restaurant's main seating area, passing a small room named "The House of Lords," with low oak beams from sailing vessels that predate the building by hundreds of years. In addition to exposed beams, the main dining room is a charming space with an ambiance-inducing fireplace.

Meat lovers will be in paradise, as the menu is filled with plenty of dishes to satisfy carnivorous cravings. To start, sample duck liver pâté served with onion chutney and bread, or try braised pig cheeks accompanied by parsnip purée and sultana ragù. Main course dishes include local venison sausages and fillets that are perfectly cooked, Wiltshire pork belly, house beer-battered fish and chips, venison burgers, and rump steak. Vegetarians also have options, from wild mushroom bruschetta served with black olive tapenade and wild rocket salad to hearty servings of roasted beetroot risotto.

Regardless of your dining choices and proclivity for gossip, Haunch of Venison provides a colorful backdrop to enjoy a pint (or two) and a solid meal.