The Lamb & Flag in St Giles, Oxford, will close after poor trade in the past year, according to its owner Oxford University’s St John’s College.
The pub has served the city since at least 1566 and hosted historic figures including writers JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Thomas Hard. It is a Grade II listed building.
The Lamb & Flag (Oxford) Limited, “will close and cease operations at the public house on 31 January 2021,” the college said in a statement.
St John’s College did not wish to comment when The Morning Advertiser (MA) asked how many staff members this would affect.
In a statement, the college said it would try to “ensure the pub’s long-term future is secured” but refused to comment further on the future of the pub when asked by The MA.
Fans of the pub have said they will push back if any attempts to change the use of the site are made.
Steve Elston, deputy bursar at St John’s College, said: “The Lamb & Flag, like many other businesses in the hospitality industry, has been hard hit by the pandemic. Despite the best efforts of the staff and looking at every option to keep it open, the trading figures of the last 12 months have meant that the pub is not currently financially viable."
As the college is a charity, it is not allowed to “financially support a loss-making business that is not part of its core charitable objectives,” Elston added.
"We know that it holds an important place in Oxford’s history," Elston said. "The pub will remain in the College’s ownership and the focus now is to work to look beyond the present situation and ensure the pub’s long-term future is secured.”
Consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) told the Oxford Mail the news was “devastating”.
Dave Richardson, of Oxford's CAMRA branch told the newspaper: “We will fight hard to keep it as a pub for residents and students so that they can drink there for years to come.
“It’s got such a long history it would be wrong to let that go.
“It’s a big student pub and is popular with residents around the city - a lot people also made it their first stop when they visited Oxford.”