Ghosts and Inklings at the Eagle and Child
1 November 2021
The Eagle and Child public house boasts some pretty heavyweight literary associations. During the 1930s and 40s, it was home to the Inklings, a group of Oxford writers who would meet at the pub on Tuesday lunchtimes to share and discuss their current literary projects over a few pints.
Ghosts of the Inklings?
Fans of writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams often make a pilgrimage to the Eagle and Child. These pilgrims like to sit in the 'Rabbit Room' where the Inklings met, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghosts of their heroes raising a pint to their lips or putting pen to paper.
Sadly, I haven't found any reports to suggest that Inkling ghosts may haunt the establishment. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien might have more luck if they take a short walk to Merton College, which is believed to be haunted by the spirit of the author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
That is not to say, however, that this 400+ year-old building does not house a spook or two!
Don't go into the cellars...
The building that now houses the Eagle and Child dates back to the time of the civil war, and there is a rumour that a secret passage at one time connected the pub's cellar to St. John's College on the other side of the road.
Is it the cellar that seems to be the focus of the pub's supernatural activity. In Paranormal Oxford Ross Andrews recounts the story of a previous landlord who saw the figure of a woman while down in the cellar changing a barrel after closing time one night.
Assuming the woman was his wife, the landlord finished what he was doing and turned to speak to her, only to find that she had vanished. His wife denied having entered the cellar. Indeed, the landlord later realised that if someone had entered or left the cellar while he was down there he would have surely heard their footsteps on the stairs!
- 'Paranormal Oxford' by Ross Andrews (2010, Amberley Publishing, ISBN: 9781445600024)
- The Inklings (Wikipedia)