One of Oxford’s most famous pubs The Eagle and Child is likely to remain closed for another two years, it has emerged.

The pub in St Giles has been shut since March 2020 and there are ambitious plans for it to be refurbished, with boutique hotel rooms also provided.

But these plans have stalled, according to Dave Richardson, a spokesman for the Oxford branch of real ale group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

Mr Richardson said the pub’s owner, St John’s College, which also owns the Lamb & Flag on the other side of St Giles, was now seeking new landlords after pub companies Youngs and Nicholson’s/Mitchell & Butler decided against going ahead with the proposal.

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Mr Richardson said: “The Eagle and Child matters not only because it is a beloved pub, but because it has achieved global fame because of the writers who used to meet there regularly. JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis were the leaders of a group known as the Inklings, who also patronised the Lamb & Flag.”

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He added: “Plans have been approved to create between six and eight boutique hotel rooms above the pub and what used to be the Green Café next door, with the ground floor of the former café acting as hotel reception.

“The conservatory at the back of the Grade II listed pub would be demolished and the ground floor extended, with new kitchen and refurbished cellar.

“A letting notice put out by estate agent Savills Licensed Leisure makes clear that the new landlord will be responsible for the works and for fitting out the building, with an annual rent 'in excess of £165,000' being stipulated.

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“Whoever takes it on will need deep pockets, leading to speculation that it might be a wealthy individual or even perhaps a community-backed group.

“It could prove a wise investment as people interested in these writers come to Oxford from all over the world, with the Tolkien Society always visiting the Eagle and Child in its annual reunion weekend.”

Mr Richardson said viewings took place last month as the college seeks a landlord to take on the pub.

He added: “As far as I’m aware no work has started yet and the pub is in quite a bad state.

“It may not re-open for a couple of years yet, but we can rely on St John’s to cherish the pub’s history as it has done with the Lamb & Flag.”

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Drinkers celebrated when it was announced the Lamb & Flag pub, closed by St John’s College earlier this year, would be reopened in the near future by community organisation The Inklings Group.

St John’s announced in January the pub was to close due to a drop in trade during the pandemic but The Inklings Group, featuring drinkers from across Oxfordshire, has stepped in to run it, and it is expected to reopen in the near future.

It is understood the group, which has hundreds of members, has signed a long-term lease.