Covid: Oxford's Lamb & Flag pub to reopen after community group takeover

Image source, ceridwen
Image caption, The Lamb & Flag had been operating at the Grade II-listed building on St Giles since the 17th Century before its January closure

A historic pub, frequented by authors JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Thomas Hardy, will reopen after a community group signed a lease to run it.

The Lamb & Flag in Oxford city centre is owned by St John's College, which closed it on 31 January.

The pub had been operating on St Giles' since the 17th Century but was shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Inklings Group, which has hundreds of members, said it had signed a long-terms lease of the building.

It is named after the group that met in Oxford at sites including the pub in the 1930s and 1940s.

Members included CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and meetings were also held in the Eagle and Child pub, also in St Giles', and at Magdalen College.

Image source, Getty Images / PA Media
Image caption, CS Lewis (left) and JRR Tolkien frequented the historic pub

The newest Inklings Group said it had been set up as a community interest company and included a "diverse and eclectic mix" of people.

In a statement, the group said: "We are determined to ensure that the next 408 years of this beloved pub will be as fun, interesting and impactful as the last 408 years.

"Our hope and belief is that the pub will remain as a community asset at the centre of the magical Oxford scene.

"The funds to ensure a sustainable future for the pub have already been committed.

"This community project is not exclusive in any way and all are welcome to become an Inkling."

The pub will be renovated ahead of a planned reopening later this year.

St John's College's principal bursar, Zoe Hancock, said it was "delighted" the pub would reopen and that it would "bring great benefit to all".

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