The Eagle and Child, the shuttered historic pub on St. Giles’, has been purchased from St. John’s College by the Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT), who plan to renovate and reopen it as a pub.
The pub has been closed since the early days of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Prior to that, it was owned by St. John’s since 2004. St. John’s had purchased it from University College, who were the landlords since the pub’s opening in the sixteenth century.
EIT have hired Foster + Partners to renovate the pub, retaining its function as a pub but also adding study spaces and a restaurant to the building. This follows unrealized plans from St. John’s to turn the upper floors of the building into a boutique hotel.
The pub is famous for its links to authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. From the 1930s through the 1960s, these authors and their friends met at the pub in an informal literary group called “the Inklings.” Here, they read aloud early drafts of some of their most famous works, such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
EIT’s purchase and planned renovation of the pub comes as it plans construction on a new 30,000 m2 campus in Oxford. The institute, founded by American tech billionaire and co-founder of Oracle Larry Ellison, has the stated goal of “developing and deploying technology” in order to solve the world’s “most challenging and enduring problems.” Their Oxford campus will host laboratory space as well as supporting the new Ellison Scholars program that will fund education for scholars at the University of Oxford.
News of the pub’s revival has excited Oxford’s residents with an interest in history and literature. One student fan of Tolkien talked of her “disappointment” when she arrived at the University and found the Eagle and Child closed. Though the EIT has not yet set a date for the pub’s reopening, these fans are hoping their wait is almost over.