A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II*1 Minster Street
Tel: (01722) 411313
Real Ale: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: Salisbury
Station Distance: 647m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Salisbury)
View on: Whatpub
A pub of great antiquity and character. Although mainly 15th-century (whence the mighty timbers inside), it was altered in the 18th and then had a still-surviving refit in 1909. Right of the lobby, a tiny room (sometimes referred to as the ‘Ladies’ Snug’) has a black and white stone floor, panelled walls with benches attached and a rare pewter counter top. Mounted on this is a wooden arch with beautiful inlaid brasswork and plates naming the maker as ‘H. Neale, Plumber, Salisbury’. It is adorned with ten taps to dispense spirits and fortified wines. Another bank of eight taps sits against the right-hand wall. Surviving sets of spirit cocks can be found in only four other UK pubs. Through a pair of narrow double doors, the public bar (or ‘House of Commons’) has more black and white flooring, panelled walls, benches (with cupboards below) and another pewter counter-top. Beer is dispensed from hand-pumps which, unusually, are situated on the bar-back. Up some steps, the ‘House of Lords’ has a low, beamed ceiling, panelled walls and an inglenook fireplace, besides which is a former bread oven containing a grisly, mummified hand (supposedly of a cheating card-player). Up more stairs, the restaurant is two rooms, the right-hand one extending into a 16th-century merchant’s house.
A city centre pub of great antiquity which has, remarkably, kept its historic appearance largely unchanged over the past 100 years with several separate small bars. Established in 1320, the present three-story building is mainly 15th century with alterations in the 18th century. It is believed to have been built as the Church House for St Thomas's situated just behind.
The entrance leads to a tiny lobby and a narrow door leads into a tiny snug called 'The Horsebox' at the front on the right hand side. It is also referred to as a 'Ladies Snug' dating back to the times where public houses were for the preserve of men only. It has a black and white tiled floor, half-height panelled walls with three pieces of bare benches attached, just one barrel tables but no stools. The panelled bar counter has a pewter top and there are 100 year old bar back shelves on a mirrored back. Note the rare wooden carved elevated arch with seven spirit taps with a brass plate inscription 'Gravity fed spirit taps fitted by H Neale, Plumber, Salisbury' with gilt decoration and dated 1909'. CAMRA is only aware of four other sets of spirit cocks at Shipman's, Northampton; Queens Head 'Turners Vault', Stockport, Greater Manchester; Haunch of Venison, Salisbury, Wiltshire; Bull, Paisley, Scotland; and Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland - all CAMRA Heritage Pubs.
Through a pair of doors with etched 'The Haunch of Venison' panels is the Public Bar called The House of Commons with another black and white quarry tiled floor. The small room has some splendid old fielded panelling, bench seating running down three sides of the room, and old fireplace with carvings above. The only way to get casks of beer into the cellar is from the public bar and while firkins (9 gallon casks) can go through the door on the left of the servery, larger ones involve removing the shelf behind the counter and opening up the bar front - very rare. The panelled bar counter also has an old pewter top and is one of only half a dozen such examples left in the country that CAMRA is aware of. Note how there are no dispensers on the counter and handpumps are affixed to the bar back-fitting which also has drawers, again some thing that is rare. On the bar back is another set of eight spirit taps (one is missing).
Go up the stairs towards the restaurant and halfway up on the left hand side you will find another small room called 'The House of Lords'. It has a low oak beamed ceiling (due to the cellar below), oak panelled walls and can comfortably seat a dozen people. Under the inglenook fireplace note the former bread oven now with a secure iron gate across it beyond which is a smoke preserved mummified hand. It is believed to be from an 18th century demented whist player who lost it in a card game due to cheating!
Continue up the stairs into the restaurant upstairs, now called 'One', which includes part of a Merchants house added to the inn in the 16th century and at quiet times is worth a look for its wealth of exposed beams in its two rooms. The left hand room has an uneven bare wood floor, old dado panelling with some carved sections in parts and a fine old carved wood surround fireplace. Up a couple of steps is another splendid creaking wood floor room with an ornate ceiling containing many bosses. It has half timbered walls with fitted seating attached to old dado panelling and a large stone fireplace that dates back to 1558 with a brick interior (possibly added in the 1930s?).
There is a hidden bar but this is not accessible to the public as its only access is by going down the staircase in the private area next to the right hand upstairs room. The tiny cloisters bar was originally accessed from the street - look for the 'Haunch of Venison' glass fronted sign on the other side of the jeweller's shop, which is located under the restaurant, indicating its entrance. It has a fine carved bar front and sectioned beamed ceiling but is now only used for storage.