Ellison Institute of Technology secures future of historic Oxford pub

  • The Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT) has purchased the Eagle and Child pub on St Giles’ in Oxford from St John’s College.
  • Follows EIT beginning construction of its state-of-the-art new campus in Oxford as part of its mission to develop and deploy technology in pursuit of solving four of humanity’s most challenging and enduring problems.
  • EIT will refurbish and reopen the historic pub to the public, while creating meeting spaces for Ellison Scholars and EIT Oxford faculty and staff to collaborate and innovate.
  • With design led by Foster + Partners, the rebirth of the Eagle and Child will modernise the space and secure its long-term economic viability, while also honouring its proud past.
  • The historic community asset is known for hosting influential writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, members of the Inklings writers’ group.

Oxford, 25 October 2023

The Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT) has purchased the Eagle and Child pub, also known as ‘the Bird and Baby’, with plans to refurbish and reopen the iconic venue in Oxford’s city centre.

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.

It follows the announcement last week that EIT has begun construction of its state-of-the-art new campus in Oxford. The development is part of its mission to use technology to address major global challenges in four key areas.

To support its mission, EIT is launching the Ellison Scholars programme, which aims to find students from around the world and train them to be leaders with the skills to invent, improve and manage the next generation of technology. The programme will fully fund selected students’ study at the University of Oxford.

EIT intends the Eagle and Child to be a place for both scholars from the new Campus and the wider University to come together to work on some of these issues, with plans for the creation of separate spaces for faculty and students to gather.

Design for the pub’s rebirth will be led by Norman Foster and his team at Foster + Partners, making this the first pub to be designed by the world-renowned architect. Refurbishment works will also include the addition of a restaurant, improving the pub’s food offering.

Dr David Agus, EIT Founding Director and CEO, 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.

The Ellison Institute of Technology is delighted – through the acquisition of this beloved space and the construction of our new Oxford Campus – to be able to put the city at the heart of our mission to help solve some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.”

EIT will maintain the Eagle and Child’s use as a public house, honouring its historic and cultural legacy. 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.

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.

EIT has acquired the Grade II Listed pub on St Giles’ from St John’s College and will reopen the historic pub to the public following its transformation.

Zoe Hancock, Principal Bursar of St John’s College, said:

“St John’s is delighted to announce the future of the Eagle and Child as a pub and iconic landmark has been assured through the sale of the property to Ellison Oxford Limited.

St John’s has owned the Eagle and Child and adjacent properties on the west side of St Giles in Oxford since 2004.

The properties have been run commercially as a public house and retail units for many years. The College developed a scheme to refurbish the Eagle and Child and to convert the upper floors of the pub – and adjacent properties – to develop a boutique hotel. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic challenges did not enable this scheme to proceed. The College has since then been working on a more modest scheme to enable the pub to reopen as soon as possible.

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.”