The Eagle, Cambridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from The Eagle (pub))
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Bene't Street frontage looking west
Main signboard of The Eagle, as seen from the Corpus Christi College accommodation above
A blue plaque outside The Eagle
The RAF Bar ceiling with graffiti of World War II airmen

Originally opened in 1667 as the 'Eagle and Child', The Eagle is one of the larger pubs in Cambridge, England, on the north side of Bene't Street in the centre of the city.[1] The site is owned by Corpus Christi College and is managed by Greene King brewery. Apart from the main bar, it sports a beer garden and the so-called RAF bar, at the rear, with graffiti of World War II airmen covering the ceiling and walls.


When the university's Cavendish Laboratory was still at its old site at nearby Free School Lane, the pub was a popular lunch destination for staff working there. Thus, it became the place where Francis Crick interrupted patrons' lunchtime on 28 February 1953 to announce that he and James Watson had "discovered the secret of life" after they had come up with their proposal for the structure of DNA.[2] The anecdote is related in Watson's book The Double Helix,[3] and is commemorated on a blue plaque next to the entrance, and two plaques in the middle room by the table where Crick and Watson lunched regularly. Today the pub serves a special ale to commemorate the discovery, dubbed "Eagle's DNA".

Also in 1953 Watson and Crick worked over lunch in the Eagle to draw up a list of the 20 canonical amino acids. This has been a very influential rubric for molecular biology, and was a key development in understanding the protein-coding nature of DNA.[4]

The Eagle is a Grade II listed building.[5] The street frontage is of circa 1600, with a galleried 19th-century wing behind, facing the courtyard. Opposite the pub is St Bene't's Church, the oldest standing building in Cambridge, with the Anglo-Saxon tower built between AD 1000–1050.[6][7]


  1. ^ Bene't Street: The Eagle pub, Cambridge 2000.
  2. ^ Ed Regis, What Is Life?: Investigating the Nature of Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 0-19-538341-9, p.52
  3. ^ "'Secret of life' discovery turns 50". BBC. 27 February 2003.
  4. ^ Freeland., Judson, Horace (1996-01-01). The eighth day of creation: makers of the revolution in biology. CSHL Press. ISBN 0879694777. OCLC 33357310.
  5. ^ Historic England. "The Eagle Inn, Cambridge (1126250)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Bene't (1126252)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  7. ^ St Bene't's Church website

Coordinates: 52°12′14″N 0°07′06″E / 52.204°N 0.1182°E / 52.204; 0.1182