Eagle & Child, Oxford

49 St Giles
City Centre
Oxford
Oxfordshire
OX1 3LU
01865 302925

Like a few other Oxford pubs, the Eagle and Child is owned by one of the university colleges. The relatively modern frontage hides a timber framed early 17th century building (photo 1) which was an endowment belonging to University College. In 2003 it was purchased by St Johns College who also own the Lamb and Flag across the road.

The pub is probably most famous for being the meeting place of the Inklings, a group of writers who included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The meetings were held the Rabbit Room, a private space at the back of the pub, from the 1930s right up until the early 1960s. At a meeting there in June 1950 C.S. Lewis distributed the proofs for The lion the witch and the wardrobe.

The group moved across to the Lamb and Flag after the Rabbit Room disappeared in a modernisation in 1962, but two lovely old wood panelled rooms remain at the front of the pub (photo 2).

The name of the pub, like many curious pub names, comes from the coat of arms of a noble family, but in this case there is a curious story to go with it. A 14th century Earl had an illegitimate child and hid it under a tree where an eagle was nesting. He then took his wife for a walk around the park, “discovered” the child and persuaded his wife to adopt it. The baby grew up to marry Sir John Stanley and the eagle and child became part of the Stanley coat of arms. Sadly the eagle didn’t fly off with baby as depicted in the pub sign (photo 3).

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