The COVID pandemic shuttered thousands of celebrated bars, but the most historic watering hole to fall victim to the coronavirus was announced this week. Oxford, England’s Lamb & Flag, a pub that counted Thomas Hardy, P.D. James, J.R.R Tolkien, and CS Lewis as regulars, is closing its doors.
The Lamb & Flag Oxford (not too be confused with Lamb & Flag Convent Garden favored by John Dryden) opened in 1566 and to its current St. Giles location in 1613. Unfortunately, St. John’s College which owns the bar, announced that establishment will be closing due to the pandemic’s impact.
“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. Also the College as a charity is not allowed to financially support a loss-making business that is not part of its core charitable objectives,” explained a statement from St. John.
The announcement was meant with much backlash from the Oxford community. Dave Richardson, of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), summed up much of the public sentiment in an editorial for the Oxford Drinker.
“Closure of the Lamb & Flag is a grievous loss for CAMRA as it has featured in the Good Beer Guide every year without fail since 2001, with consistently high beer scores, and has been named City Pub of the Year on several occasions. Up to six real ales could usually be found here, including a house bitter from Palmers in Dorset, Theakston’s Old Peculier and rotating local beers. It was also one of the few pubs where you could always find real cider. The pub’s clientele was a mix of locals, students, academics and real ale lovers who would make it first stop on a visit to Oxford.”
Richardson noted that there are several avenues to revive the pub. Management also does not seem to believe that the closure will be permanent.
“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,” concluded their statement.