Lamb & Flag, Oxford

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The Lamb & Flag
Lamb and Flag.jpg
Lamb & Flag pub
Lamb & Flag, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre
Lamb & Flag, Oxford
Location within Central Oxford
General information
Address12 St Giles',Oxford, OX1 3JS
Coordinates51°45′27″N 1°15′34″W / 51.7574°N 1.2594°W / 51.7574; -1.2594Coordinates: 51°45′27″N 1°15′34″W / 51.7574°N 1.2594°W / 51.7574; -1.2594
OwnerSt John's College, Oxford

The Lamb & Flag is a pub in St Giles' Street, Oxford, England. It is owned by St John's College. Historically, profits funded DPhil student scholarships. The pub lies just north of the main entrance to St John's College. Lamb & Flag Passage runs through the south side of the building, connecting St Giles' with Museum Road, where there is an entrance to Keble College to the rear of the pub.

The name of the pub comes from the symbol of Christ as the victorious Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) of the Book of Revelation, carrying a banner with a cross, and often gashed in the side. This is also a symbol of St John the Baptist, and so is emblematic of ownership by the College of St John the Baptist.

In January 2021, St John's College announced the pub would close and cease operations on 31 January.

In September 2021, The Inklings, a community interest company, signed a 15-year lease to re-open the pub.


The Lamb had been operating since at least 1566, situated just south of St John's.[2] In 1613[1] the college moved the pub to its current site (the old site is today the Dolphin Quadrangle).[2] Though owned by the college, this new site was somewhat further away from the college's main buildings. Since the pub's move, construction of the Sir Thomas White and Kendrew Quadrangles in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has led to the pub being once again close to St John's activities.

St John's took over the management of the pub in 1997, and used all pub profits to fund scholarships for graduate students.[3] The pub is a Grade II listed building[4]

The Lamb & Flag had suffered a loss of revenues since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and closed on January 31, 2021.[5][6] In September 2021, The Inklings, a community interest company, signed a 15-year lease to re-open it.

Popular culture[edit]

It is believed that Thomas Hardy wrote much of his novel Jude the Obscure in this pub.[citation needed] In this novel, the city of Christminster is a thinly-disguised Oxford, and it is thought that a pub that appears in certain passages of the novel is based on The Lamb & Flag.[7] The pub also featured frequently in episodes of the ITV detective drama Inspector Morse,[8] and in the pilot episode of Endeavour. The Inklings (a literary group including C.S. Lewis) also met here, although they are more commonly associated with the Eagle and Child, which also stands on St. Giles, directly opposite the Lamb & Flag.[9] The novelist Graham Greene drank at the pub while a student at Balliol College.[9]

Additionally, the pub is mentioned in P.D. James' book "The Children of Men".


  1. ^ a b Riordan, Michael (2011). "St. John, the College and the Merchant Taylors' Company". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23.
  2. ^ a b *Stevenson, William Henry; Salter, Herbert Edward (1939). The Early History of St. John's College, Oxford. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  3. ^ St John's College, Oxford. "Lamb and Flag Scholarships". Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Lamb and Flag Inn (Grade II) (1338861)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Will you miss the Lamb & Flag in Oxford?". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  6. ^ "Historic Lord of the Rings pub to close after 450 years".
  7. ^ "Covid: Oxford's Lamb & Flag 'could be community asset'". BBC News. UK: BBC. 11 February 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  8. ^ Tim Reynolds (2003-11-04). "College uses pub's profits to 'reach the places other awards cannot reach'". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  9. ^ a b Richardson, Dave (2015). "Lamb and Flag, St Giles". Oxford Pubs. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1445647296.

External links[edit]