Historic city pub the Eagle and Child has been sold to a technology institute.

Owners St John's College have struck a deal with the Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT).

Earlier this month the institute, established eight years ago in Los Angeles by billionaire Larry Ellison, announced plans for a new laboratory campus at Oxford Science Park.

READ MORE: New research campus will solve global problems 

Now the tech company has bought the pub in St Giles from owners St John's College and says renowned architect Norman Foster will renovate it.

According to the institute new study space will be created for students but the Eagle and Child will remain as a pub. It has been closed since the pandemic.

Oxford Mail: The Eagle and ChildThe pub is famous for its links with JRR Tolkien - his literary group including CS Lewis was called the Inklings and they used to meet there.

According to EIT, it will:

  • Refurbish and reopen the historic pub to the public, while creating meeting spaces for Ellison Scholars and EIT Oxford faculty and staff to collaborate and innovate. 
  • With design led by Foster + Partners, the rebirth of the Eagle and Child will modernise the space and secure its long-term economic viability, while also honouring its proud past.  

EIT says it wants the Eagle and Child to be a place for both scholars from the new campus and the wider university to come together to work on technology issues.

The refurbishment will include the addition of a new restaurant.

Dr David Agus, EIT founding director and CEO, said: "The Eagle and Child pub is a truly historic venue that has hosted some of the greatest minds Oxford has had to offer for over 300 years.  

READ MORE: Vital interchange scheme gets green light 

“We are humbled and proud to be able to safeguard this treasured pub’s future and continue its legacy as a place for brilliant people to come together, including for our Ellison Scholars. 

“The Ellison Institute of Technology is delighted – through the acquisition of this beloved space and the construction of our new Oxford Campus – to be able to put the city at the heart of our mission to help solve some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.”  

Although EIT has pledged to maintain the Eagle and Child's use as a pub it has not yet said when it will reopen.

Oxford Mail: Students in the Eagle and ChildZoe Hancock, Principal Bursar of St John’s College, said: "St John’s is delighted to announce the future of the Eagle and Child as a pub and iconic landmark has been assured through the sale of the property to Ellison Oxford Limited. 

“St John’s has owned the Eagle and Child and adjacent properties on the west side of St Giles in Oxford since 2004. 

“The properties have been run commercially as a public house and retail units for many years. The College developed a scheme to refurbish the Eagle and Child and to convert the upper floors of the pub – and adjacent properties – to develop a boutique hotel. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic challenges did not enable this scheme to proceed. The college has since then been working on a more modest scheme to enable the pub to reopen as soon as possible. 

“The Eagle and Child is an iconic Oxford pub with a history dating back to the 17th century and St John’s has been pleased to play a small part in its story."

Oxford Mail: Drinkers in the Eagle and ChildDave Richardson, of Oxford CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said: "What is most important is that the Eagle and Child is staying as a pub and we welcome that.

"The alcoves nearest St Giles are the most historic part and they should be retained for use by the general public, together with the room where the Inklings used to meet.

"As the pub goes back it becomes more modern - it wouldn't matter if the conservatory area was developed as a study space."

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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.

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