Loved by students, scholars and writers for 450 years, Oxford pub shuts due to COVID-19

Loved by students, scholars and writers for 450 years, Oxford pub shuts due to COVID-19

A historic pub situated in the centre of Oxford that has served students, scholars and literary greats for over 450 years is to shut down. This shutdown was a result of cultural casualty of the Covid pandemic.

Author J.R.R. Tolkien who wrote “Lord of the Rings” and his friend C.S. Lewis, who wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia”, frequently visited The Lamb and the Flag, but since the start of the pandemic, this place suffered a huge loss of revenues.

Back in the year 1556, the pub was opened and in the year 1613 it moved to its current location on St Giles. St. Giles is a broad thoroughfare in the city centre and is owned by St John’s College, which is one of the 45 colleges and private halls that make up the University of Oxford.

In a statement announcing the pub would close on Jan. 31, Steve Elston, deputy bursar of St John’s, said, “The Lamb and Flag, like many other businesses in the hospitality industry, has been hard hit by the pandemic.”

He further added, “The trading figures of the last 12 months have meant that the pub is not currently financially viable.”

England has been in its third national lockdown since January 5. The country was totally shut for most of March, April, May and June last year then again in November. This severely disrupted the university life.

According to Dave Richardson of the Oxford branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, the Lamb and Flag was one of the city’s most traditional pubs and it would be a tragedy to see it disappear.

He said, “It has no TV, it has no jukebox, it has no music. It’s a place where people come to talk to each other, to enjoy the traditional, historic surroundings. Generations of people have done that, students, townspeople, and people from afar.”

The place was named after symbols traditionally associated with St John the Baptist. The Lamb and Flag is rumoured to have hosted the great writer Thomas Hardy. Thomas set his dark novel “Jude the Obscure” partly in a fictionalised Oxford called Christminster.

Since 1997, the profits generated by the pub were used by St. John’s College to fund the scholarships for graduate students. Now that the pub is shut, the college will directly fund the scholarships.


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