Larry Ale-ison institute invests in Oxford pub linked to Tolkien, CS Lewis

DBAs come in for beer but struggle to find a table, query imaginary world in wardrobe

Newcomers to the tech industry may feel like they have entered Narnia, with its abundance of strange language, mythology, and clothing. Now its own King Aslan – Oracle founder Larry Ellison – has stepped into the story by investing in an Oxford pub where Chronicles of Narnia author CS Lewis and his mate JRR Tolkien shared pints.

eagle and child pub

The sign of the popular pub Eagle and Child on St Giles Street, where JRR Tolkien used to meet with the Oxford writers' group The Inklings Pic: Alicia Christoffel/Shutterstock

According to reports, the Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT), which the software billionaire founded, has bought the Eagle and Child, a drinking venue that closed in 2020.

The pub is said to have been established in 1650, and was favored in England's historic center of learning by its famed literati. The EIT has committed to refurbishing and reopening "the iconic venue."

Lord of the Rings writer Tolkien and Lewis were said to regularly meet with other Oxford University colleagues in the alehouse, which was previously owned by St John's College.

The pub is Grade II listed – a formal status that limits how the building can be changed and developed – and plans to redevelop the building have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Investment in the industry has also suffered longer-term decline, which has seen around 7,000 pubs shut their doors over the last decade or so.

Lego: The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien 'almost became WWII code-breaker alongside Alan Turing'


EIT says it develops and deploys technology in "pursuit of solving four of humanity's most challenging and enduring problems." It counts former UK prime minister Tony Blair among its leadership team.

Designs for the pub's refurb are set to be led by Foster and Partners, founded by award-winning architect Norman Foster. The company has also published a set of design ideas for the EIT campus, an interdisciplinary research and development facility planned for Oxford.

In a statement, 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 Register might just pop down for a Big Red bottle of plonk and some dry roasted ERPnuts when Larry jumps behind the bar to start serving up booze to paying locals. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like