Street level view of the Eagle and Child Pub


The Ellison Institute of Technology has secured the future of the historic Oxford pub

Published: 21 November 2023


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The Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT) has announced that it has purchased Oxford’s famous Eagle and Child pub from St John’s College, with a view to restoring and reopening it.

The historic Eagle and Child pub, which first opened in 1684, was forced to close its doors in March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and has lain empty and closed for over three years since.

Dr David Agus, EIT Founding Director and CEO, told BBC Radio Oxford that the Institute will re-open the pub as a pub, and that he was ‘open to ideas for what beer and whisky to serve.’

He said that the kitchen would be totally overhauled with a view to serving top notch food, while Norman Foster’s architectural agency Foster + Partners has been hired to work on a master plan that will see the second and third floors renovated into meeting spaces to discuss global problems, in effect a cosy and congenial extension of EIT’s recently announced state-of-the-art new campus in Oxford.

Dr Agus says, ‘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 pub was a favourite of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, members of the famous Inklings writers’ group, who would regularly meet at the Eagle and Child.

Zoe Hancock, Principal Bursar of St John’s College, explained that the college had had a plan to turn the pub into a boutique hotel, but that the global COVID-19 pandemic had made that plan unviable.

‘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 was established eight years ago as a research and development centre for cancer, healthcare and global public health.

Founded in Los Angeles by Larry Ellison and Dr David Agus under the name The Ellison Institute of Transformative Medicine, EIT recently announced it would broaden its mission to focus on four key areas of scientific and technological innovation: medical science and healthcare; food security and sustainable agriculture; clean energy and climate change; and government policy and economics. 

Ellison Institute of Technology

Founded by Larry Ellison and Dr David Agus, the Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT) works to develop and deploy advanced technology in pursuit of solving some of humanity’s most challenging and enduring problems.

To learn more about EIT, visit eit.org.

St John’s College

Established in 1555 as a constituent college of the University of Oxford, St John’s College fosters excellence in education and research and is committed to equality and diversity. It is one of the largest among Oxford Colleges and offers tuition in nearly every subject studied at the University.