An announcement is expected soon on the future of the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford.

The famous watering hole, once the favourite of writers' group The Inklings featuring JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, has now been shut for more than three years.

But owners St John's College said efforts are being made to reopen the pub and the process of identifying new management to run it is about to be completed.

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The college asked property management company to identify the most suitable tenant.

St John's College principal bursar told the Oxford Mail: "Our property agents Savills have been undertaking a process to identify a tenant on our behalf.

"We are nearing the end of this process but are not in a position to discuss anything publicly until we have completed the process.

Oxford Mail:

"We are at the same time progressing with the refurbishment works that need to take place before the Eagle and Child reopens.

"We will hopefully have some good news to share shortly."

The Eagle and Child shut on March 20, 2020 when the first coronavirus lockdown was announced and has never reopened.

Ambitious plans to relaunch it as a pub with boutique hotel rooms came to nothing and now the hostelry which has strong literary links is being marketed as a standalone pub.

While a pub company could step in to run it, another possibility is for a community interest group to run it.

Oxford Mail: Dave Richardson of Oxford CAMRA

That model has worked well at the Lamb & Flag pub on the other side of St Giles.

The Lamb & Flag also closed in the pandemic but was reopened in October after being taken over by a community group called The Inkllings.

Pub managers Dylan Dudbridge-Hay and his wife Alice are focusing on serving real ales to cater for customers' demands - plans to serve hot meals have been dropped although bar snacks are available.

Dave Richardson, a spokesman for Oxford CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said: "Community ownership of pubs is well established in Oxfordshire and while this is mainly in villages, the success of the Lamb & Flag just across the road proves that it can work in a city environment too.

Oxford Mail:

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“This is a pub calling out for sympathetic management who would respect its heritage, provide a good range of ales and maybe offer some good value food.

"But it needs a great deal of structural and fitting work so I wouldn’t expect it to reopen for a couple of years after work starts.”

Mr Richardson estimated last year that it could cost £1m to renovate the pub, which featured in the final series of Oxford-based detective drama Endeavour.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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