Pub of the Month: The Haunch of Venison, Salisbury – Mystery Guides
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Pub of the Month: The Haunch of Venison, Salisbury

This historic pub has been home to a host of ghostly goings on over the years...and a mummified hand!

Image of the Haunch of Venison pub

The 700-year old Haunch of Venison pub is a perfect place to stop for a drink and a bite to eat as you explore beautiful Salisbury - but beware, your relaxing surroundings hide a dark and grisly secret!

The building dates back to 1320, when it was was used to house craftsmen working on building Salisbury Cathedral. Fast forward 200 years, and the building was licenced during the reign of Henry VIII, becoming first a brothel and eventually an inn.

The pub has welcomed some famous faces over the years, including two of JFK's sisters, whose armed bodyguards scared some of the punters! Perhaps the pub's most iconic claim to fame is that it was allegedly where Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower met during the Second World War - to discuss the D-Day Landings over a brandy or two.

Salisbury Cathedral
Image from Pixabay

Haunted Happenings

It's no surprise that this centuries-spanning building is believed to be home to its fair share of spirits, including the Grey Lady, whose appearance is often signalled by a strong smell of lavender. Visitors have also witnessed glasses smashing of their own accord, knives in the kitchen standing on end, and, perhaps most worryingly, a ghostly man wearing a brown shirt and braces watching residents as they sleep!

The Hand of Glory

Undoubtedly the strangest occurrence at the pub happened in 1911, when a severed hand was found behind a bricked up fireplace in the upstairs bar. Legend has it that the hand belonged to a stranger who turned up at the bar in 1820 and proceeded to beat the locals in several games of whist. A local butcher, becoming increasingly sure the stranger was cheating, allegedly whipped out a meat cleaver and chopped the unfortunate man's hand clean off. The story goes that out of the man's cuff fell a handful of Aces - proof that he had been cheating!

Another theory is that the hand was a 'Hand of Glory' severed from the body of a hanged criminal. According to an old European belief, amputated hands had supernatural powers - and were used by burglars to send their victims into a coma-like sleep.  

Image of a skeletal hand
Image from Pixabay

What Happened to the Hand?

When the hand was discovered almost 100 years later the pub's owners decided to display the grisly find - perhaps as a warning to punters that cheating is taken VERY seriously in Salisbury! However that wasn't the end of the tale - the hand was stolen in 2004, and the one you can see in the pub today is a replica.

Meanwhile the hand's owner is said to haunt The Haunch of Venison to this day. So if you visit the pub and find yourself suddenly freezing cold, surrounded by a strange smell of lavender, with your previously full pint spilled all over the floor - could it be the Grey Lady, the Brown Shirted Man, or the 'Demented Whist Player', searching forever for his lost hand?

Image of Joker card
Image from Pixabay

Next time you visit - make sure you keep your cards close to your chest!

Why not vote for Salisbury as the location of our next Mystery Guide? And in the meantime, check out these other amazing adventures...