Oxford's historic Lamb & Flag pub - shut by the pandemic - will reopen early next year.

There was worldwide dismay when the pub in St Giles dating back to 1613 was closed in January by The Lamb & Flag (Oxford) Limited, a company owned by St John’s College, after takings were hit by repeated coronavirus lockdowns.

thisisoxfordshire: Dave Richardson of Oxford CAMRA, Steve Lawrence of Oxford CAMRA, landlord Steve Jones and Tony Goulding of Oxford CAMRA Photo: Phil Gammon

Dave Richardson and Steve Lawrence of Oxford CAMRA, landlord Steve Jones, and Tony Goulding of Oxford CAMRA Photo: Phil Gammon

Then, in October, drinkers celebrated when it was announced the pub would reopen following an agreement between the college and the Inklings Group, a Community Interest Company which signed a long-term release.

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It had been hoped the pub would reopen before Christmas but now a February date is planned, as work costing £30,000 to renovate an old cellar is completed.

Dave Richardson, of the Oxford branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) welcomed the news.

He said: "We really look forward to the Lamb & Flag reopening in February as it was one of our top real ale pubs, and the extensive work under way to create a new cellar will ensure that these beers will be kept in tip-top condition.


Steve Jones, new landlord of the Lamb & Flag Photo: Phil Gammon

"The pub expects to serve up to six mainly local real ales and one real cider, and will be a much appreciated addition to the local drinking scene.

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"We must congratulate St John's for leasing the pub to a Community Interest group that anyone can invest in, which has the vision to restore the Lamb & Flag to the heart of university and city life, rather than to one of the larger pub companies that would want to impose its own identity on this 400-year-old hostelry.

"With a modest rather than extensive food offer that will complement the ales and other drinks rather than detract from them, this will be a proper pub with an experienced landlord, Steve Jones, in charge.

"Community ownership is an interesting trend, and this has already saved 10 pubs in Oxfordshire which might very well have closed otherwise. We look forward to seeing how this works in a city setting, rather than the villages where most local community-owned pubs operate."


The old cellar at the Lamb & Flag Photo: Phil Gammon

The news comes after it emerged the Eagle and Child on the other side of St Giles, could remain closed for another two years as a renovation scheme continues.

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Mr Richardson added: "We now look forward to hearing about St John's' plans to re-open the Eagle and Child on the opposite side of St Giles, another very historic pub."

Inklings Group chairwoman Kate O'Brien told members in a letter: "In terms of the pub itself, we felt it needed a little love and attention.

"The basement in particular needs some and we are currently undertaking an extensive refurbishment and creating a beer (and wine!) cellar you can all be proud of. This will ensure that the range of local ales sold at the Lamb & Flag will be in absolutely prime condition.


"The kitchen and other areas of the pub also require a little overhaul. This means that we will reopen to the public in February (January being a rather dry month)."