Ronald K. Brind

C.S. Lewis in Oxford

A Guide for Visitors

The Eagle and Child, St Giles, Oxford

Known locally as the ‘Bird and Baby’ and a former watering hole of the group of nineteen men referred to as the ‘Inklings’ that can be found in St Giles, Oxford and not far away from the Register Office where Jack married Joy in April 1956. The Eagle and Child has been trading as a pub since 1650 and was named after the Earl of Derby.

During the years 1642-1646 Oxford was the capital of Royalist England with Charles I and his Queen Henrietta Maria residing at Christ Church and Merton College respectively. During the Civil War the Eagle and Child and the adjacent buildings were used as the pay house for Royalist soldiers of Charles I.

The Eagle and Child was purchased by St Johns College, Oxford during 2005 for something in the region of £1.2 million, but not even this property is a shrine to C S Lewis!

However, a visit to the Eagle and Child is not to be missed! Why not enjoy your lunch sitting in the area, no bigger than say 9 feet by 7 feet known as the ‘Rabbit Room’. (As you face the bar look over your left shoulder to read ‘Rabbit Room’ on a small plaque). This is where the Inklings would gather on a Tuesday morning discussing written works over a pint. During the late 1930′s early 1940′s the ‘Rabbit Room’ was literally the rear of the pub, but it has been extended considerably since to allow for catering requirements!

It’s also where C S Lewis refers to ‘Many a golden session in front of a blazing fire, with a pint close to hand’. Why not record your visit to the Eagle and Child with a photograph inside the pub sitting in one of the very seats that so many Oxford literary authors sat. It’s a case of first come first served for the seating, the locals probably not even knowing, least of all caring about who previously sat there anyway!

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