After a 50-year run at Farnham Castle, Farnham’s historic Venison Dinner is to return to The Bush Hotel this November.
The first Venison Dinner took place in 1605, and was held in an attempt by the bailiffs and burgesses of the castle to stop townsfolk from poaching deer from Farnham Park.
Early feasts were held at the wonderfully-titled Old Goats Head pub, with subsequent dinners being held at a rotation of town pubs over the centuries.
After a stoppage for the Second World War, the Venison Dinner was reinstated in the early 1950s at The Bush Hotel, before becoming a mainstay at Farnham Castle from 1973.
However, after Farnham Castle says it was forced to raise its fee because of rising costs, and after months of negotiations, the Venison Dinner committee took the decision to relocate the historic event once again to The Bush.
This year’s dinner will take place on Thursday, November 10 – – tickets cost £75 each and can be reserved by emailing [email protected]
Venison Dinner committee chairman Pat Frost said she was “very disappointed not to be at the castle”, and said the relocation had come about after the castle proposed hiking the cost per meal from £45 to £75.
“The organising committee discussed this but came to the conclusion we could not pass on this sort of increase to our supporters,” said the former Farnham mayor.
“We do not make money on the dinner, we are not that sort of organisation – my own company BBS and the town council put in some sponsorship each year and there was a time when Sir Ray Tindle would kindly underwrite any major losses.
“It is important to us that we keep the ticket price reasonable so that everyone has the opportunity to come to the dinner.
“We knew we would have an increase in cost for the meal but not that high. It came as quite a shock.”
A spokesman for Farnham Castle said: “After more than ten years of supporting and subsidising the Venison Dinner, Farnham Castle is disappointed not to be continuing to host this event this year.
“Over the years, we have all really enjoyed being part of this historic, special occasion, ‘presenting’ the venison haunch each year, as part of a five course venison dining menu.
“We have been in communication with the Venison Dinner committee, since March, offering our support to this event, together with our customary complimentary venue hire.
“To continue to deliver this event, with increasing food costs, we suggested an uplift of cost for this year’s five course dining, from the previous cost of £45 per head (held since 2016).
“The committee found an uplift to be outside their budget, and confirmed this to us in August.”