Oxford Pubs: The Eagle & Child.

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The Eagle & Child

The Eagle & Child is a famous Oxford pub, best known for being the watering hole used by writers J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. The pub is just three minutes from the Ashmolean Museum and a staple for Oxford visitors. 

Important Note: The Eagle & Child is currently closed for renovations. It’s estimated the renowned pub will reopen its doors sometime in 2023.  

The Eagle & Chid os a beloved pub that has achieved global fame because of two people who used to meet there regularly: J. R. R Tolkien (who created The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and was a professor at Oxford) and C. S. Lewis (the pen behind The Chronicles of Narnia and also a tutor at the University). 

The Eagle & Child History

The Eagle & Child is sometimes referred to also as the Bird and Baby. The pub has been an endowment of University College to St. John’s College Oxford since the 17th century, although it’s been operated by Mitchells & Butlers as a Nicholson’s pub.

Although the pub is small and narrow, it has a reputed history. For example, it apparently served as lodgings for the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the English Civil War (1642 to 1649). Because Oxford was the Royalist capital, the pub served as a pay house for the army, with poy auctions frequently held in the courtyard. However, these claims have been questioned as the pub actually lies outside the city walls. One thing we know for sure: Oxford’s Eagle & Child already existed in 1864.

Oxford Pubs: The Eagle & Child - Interior.
An interior view of The Eagle & Child c. 2005.

Why Is It Called The Eagle & Child?

The name is believed to derive from the legend of Ganymede, a divine hero and ‘the most divine of mortals’ that was abducted by the eagle of Zeus. There is, however, another interpretation; a reference to the crest of the Earl of Derby, which talks about the noble-born baby that was found in the nest of an eagle. 

Where is the the Eagle & Child pub?

The pub is located at 49 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU, just a short walk from the Ashmolean Museum. Because of its convenient placement, it’s a popular touristic destination, particularly for literature lovers. 

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