Historic pub could stay closed until 2022

ONE of Oxford’s most historic pubs may not reopen until the spring of 2022, it has been revealed.

The Eagle and Child on St Giles closed before lockdown to undergo renovations so it could be used as a hotel as well as a pub.

The inn, renowned for being the watering hole of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, is currently run by Nicholson’s pubs, but that company is handing control of the business over to Young & Co in autumn next year once the revamp is complete.

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Now Young’s has revealed that it is planning to open the pub in early 2022.

If current coronavirus restrictions continue, that could mean the pub does not reopen before then.

A spokesperson for Young & Co said: “We are currently working with the developers to sign off final planning conditions and further develop the plans for the site.

“The lockdown earlier this year has impacted the speed of the development, however, all parties are now re-engaged to take the project through to completion.

“We are expecting handover to Young’s to fit out in Autumn 2021 and re-opening Spring 2022.”

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The major renovation plans for the Eagle and Child came to light in November when St John’s College, which owns the building, applied to Oxford City Council for planning permission.

In April, Young & Co also submitted an application for a new alcohol licence which has now been approved.

The college will now oversee the development of the new hotel rooms while the pub is still in control of Nicholson’s, but the work has still not begun.

St John’s said this week: “The college continues to work with Young & Co on plans to refurbish the pub.

“The lockdown earlier this year has inevitably led to some delays, but both Young & Co and the college remain committed to the project.”

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When Nicholson’s was asked when the public could expect the pub to reopen, it said the decision remained ‘under review’.

A spokesperson for Mitchells & Butlers, which owns Nicholson’s, said: “We have reopened the majority of our pubs since lockdown restrictions were lifted, however, a small number are yet to reopen.

“The decision not to immediately reopen these specific businesses has been made on a site by site basis, taking into account the various factors including business layout and expected footfall.

“A decision on when the Eagle & Child will reopen remains under review.”

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Current plans for the renovation include sprucing up the existing downstairs seating, making improvements to the kitchen and rebuilding an extension on the back of the pub.

The first and second floors will be used as hotel accommodation.

When the pub reopens, the new licensed hours will be 7am to midnight on Monday to Saturday and 7am to 11pm on Sunday.

In its planning application, St John’s College pledged that the renovation would ‘take into account’ the rich heritage of the historic building, which has been a pub since 1650.