The Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT) has purchased the historic Eagle and Child pub on St Giles’ from St John’s College, with plans to refurbish and reopen the space to the public.
The refurbished pub will provide separate meeting spaces for Ellison Scholars and EIT staff and faculty members, as well as being a general recreation space for members of the public. A restaurant will be added to the existing pub space to improve its food offerings.
Designs for the Grade II Listed pub’s refurbishment will be led by Norman Foster and his team at Foster + Partners. It will be the first pub to be designed by the world-renowned architect.
The Eagle and Child first opened in 1684 and is known for hosting the Inklings writers’ group in the 1930s and 1940s. World-famous authors C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were notable members of the Inklings. The pub was forced to close its doors in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In June, the Oxford Mail reported that St John’s College was attempting to reopen the pub via a search for new management and that they were “nearing the end of [that] process”.
Dr David Agus, Founding Director and CEO of the Ellison Institute of Technology, said of the purchase: “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.
“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.”
Zoe 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.
“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. As an educational charity the College will be looking to invest the proceeds from the sale to focus on its charitable purposes, most particularly in relation to ensuring that we continue to attract the best students, irrespective of their background or ability to pay, and to give them the opportunity to study and succeed at St John’s and the University.”
EIT intends the Eagle and Child to be a collaborative space for Ellison Scholars to work on projects to “invent, improve and manage the next generation of technology” with the wider University community.