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J.R.R Tolkien pub in Oxford sold to tech institute

The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford is set to reopen for the first time in three years after it was purchased by a research institution.

The Grade II-listed pub first opened in 1684 and was known to have been frequented by writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, of The Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis of The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Eagle and Child had been owned by St John's College, which is part of the University of Oxford, since 2004. The pub has remained closed since it first shut its doors in March 2020.

St John's College had hoped to redevelop the pub and its adjacent properties into a boutique hotel, but dropped plans to do so following the pandemic.

Instead, the College had 'been working on a more modest scheme to enable the pub to reopen as soon as possible'.

The Los Angeles-based Ellison Institute of Technology has now bought the pub from St John's College for an undisclosed sum and revealed it will refurbish and reopen the space to the public.

The Institute, which develops technology to tackle global issues such as climate change, recently began construction for a research facility in Oxford.

It added the renovated pub will provide additional meeting spaces for scholars and staff affiliated with the Institute.

The redesign will be led by architect Norman Foster and his team Foster + Partners. There are also plans to build a restaurant to improve the pub's food offering.

David Agus, founding director and chief executive of the Ellison Institute of Technology, said: '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.'

Zoe Hancock, principal bursar of St John's College, added: '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.'