Turf Tavern

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Turf Tavern
Turf Tavern in Oxford, England.jpg
Turf Tavern located in Oxford, England.
Turf Tavern is located in Oxford city centre
Turf Tavern
Location within Central Oxford
General information
Coordinates51°45′17″N 1°15′11″W / 51.7547°N 1.253°W / 51.7547; -1.253Coordinates: 51°45′17″N 1°15′11″W / 51.7547°N 1.253°W / 51.7547; -1.253
Turf Tavern website

The Turf Tavern (or just "the Turf") is a historic pub in central Oxford, England. Its foundations and use as a malt house and drinking tavern date back to 1381.[citation needed] The low-beamed front bar area was put in place sometime in the 17th century.[1] It was originally called the Spotted Cow but the name was changed in 1842, likely as part of an effort to extinguish its reputation as a venue for illegal gambling activities.[citation needed]

The pub is frequented primarily by university students (of both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University).[citation needed] It is located at the end of a narrow winding alley, St Helens Passage (originally Hell's passage), between Holywell Street and New College Lane, near the Bridge of Sighs.[2] Running along one side of the pub is one of the remaining sections of the old city wall. Due to the illegal activities of many of its original patrons, the Turf sprang up in an area just outside the city wall in order to escape the jurisdiction of the governing bodies of the local colleges.[3]

The Turf Tavern is also where future Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a Guinness World Record for consuming a yard glass of ale in 11 seconds in 1954.[4] Other public figures who have dined or drunk at the tavern include Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Blair, CS Lewis, Stephen Hawking and Margaret Thatcher.[5] It also served as a hangout for the cast and crew of the Harry Potter movies while the nearby colleges were used as locations throughout the filming of the series.[citation needed] The Turf Tavern also claims to be the location where future American president Bill Clinton, while a student at University College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, famously smoked "but did not inhale" marijuana.[6][7][8][9]

It was also featured in the ITV TV Series Inspector Morse aired between 1987 and 2000.[2]


  1. ^ "Turf Tavern pub in Oxford". Greene King Local Pubs. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Find a Hidden Oxford Pub Down a Secret Alley". TripSavvy. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Oxford's Turf Tavern to undergo a facelift". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Bob Hawke's beer-drinking record may be marked by Oxford blue plaque". TheGuardian.com. 14 June 2019.
  5. ^ Middleton, Christopher (17 April 2009). "Oxfordshire Pub Guide: The Turf Tavern, Oxford". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Bob Hawke's beer-drinking record may be marked by Oxford blue plaque". The Guardian. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Turf Tavern". Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  8. ^ "The Turf Tavern". Daily Info. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  9. ^ Will-Weber, Mark (2014). Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt The Complete History of Presidential Drinking. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing. p. 346. ISBN 9781621572435. Retrieved 12 July 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Turf Tavern, Oxford at Wikimedia Commons