The new owners of Oxford's historic Eagle and Child pub are preparing to meet planners to discuss its renovation.

The pub in St Giles, famous for its links with fantasy writers JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, has now been closed for about four years.

But last year the hostelry was bought from St John's College by the Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT).

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The institute, established in Los Angeles by billionaire Larry Ellison, also announced plans for a new laboratory campus at Oxford Science Park.

In February representatives from the institute visited the city and paid a visit to pub, which now needs to be renovated.

EIT chief operating officer Lisa Flashner visited with senior directors Matt Abney and Tom Myers, and enjoyed pints of XT3 West Coast IPA in the Lamb and Flag opposite.

Architects Norman Foster and Partners have been appointed to develop the laboratory campus, due to open in 2026, and Mr Foster is also managing the restoration of the pub.

Oxford Mail: Representatives of the Ellison InstituteDue to its poor structural condition and nearly four years of standing empty no date has been given yet for its reopening.

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Dave Richardson, of the Oxford branch of real ale group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said in February the challenge would be to recreate the pub’s original features, including the alcoves at the front and the Rabbit Room where writer's group the Inklings used to meet, while making the narrow building more welcoming.

The conservatory dining area at the rear, which Ms Flashner described as “horrible”, will be demolished and replaced by a modern addition.

Key to the plans is to open up the rear garden, with access via the passageway up the side as well as through the pub.

Oxford Mail: The Eagle and Child in St GilesSusie Barber, a spokeswoman for the Ellison Institute, said there would be two pre-application meetings with city council planners between now and July, and a meeting with stakeholders would follow in July or August.

The Lamb & Flag on the other side of St Giles closed during Covid but then reopened in October, 2022.

Mr Richardson added: "I know there were delays with renovation work at the Lamb & Flag due to listed building consent issues.

"The Eagle and Child is Grade II listed so I do hope its listed status won't cause additional delays during the renovation.

Oxford Mail: Win Reading, landlady of the Eagle and Child in 1959"A lot of structural work will be needed because the building is in a poor state after being closed for four years.

"Norman Foster is a renowned architect and no doubt he will be taking into account the pub's listed status."

Mr Richardson added: "It's frustrating for people walking past the pub to see it semi-derelict and I think it could be at least another year before it reopens.

"I hope we will not end up facing endless delays."

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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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