An Oxford Pub Where Tolkien And CS Lewis Had Beers Is Shutting Down

The historic Lamb & Flag pub in Oxford is shutting its doors at the end of the month due to COVID-19.


An iconic Oxford pub where literary giants J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to catch up and have some beers is shutting down after hundreds of years of operation.

The Lamb & Flag in the Oxford city centre is closing its doors on January 31 due to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its business. The pub had been open since 1613.

Owned by Oxford university's St John's College, the pub put its workers on furlough in March 2020 before re-opening in August, but the establishment was unable to make a profit.

Steve Elston, the deputy bursar at St John's, told the BBC that he understands the Lamb & Flag is a historic institution, but it's just not making enough money to keep the doors open. There is also the matter that, because St John's is a not-for-profit university, it cannot run any businesses that don't make money.

"Despite the best efforts of the staff and looking at every option to keep it open, the trading figures of the last 12 months have meant that the pub is not currently financially viable. Also the college, as a charity, is not allowed to financially support a loss-making business that is not part of its core charitable objectives," Elston said.

The profits from the Lamb & Flag were, under regular times when it was making money, donated to help fund scholarships for graduate students.

While the Lamb & Flag may be closing soon, another pub where Tolkien and Lewis used to catch up over a pint, The Eagle and Child, remains open in Oxford. This establishment is also owned by St John's College.

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