Nos. 48–49: Eagle & Child pub
This building dates from the sixteenth century and is Grade II listed (ref. 1485/516). It is popularly known as the “Bird & the Baby”, and has been a pub since 1650. Wellington Place runs along the north side of the building, and Eagle & Child Passage runs through the pub itself on the south side.
The pub belonged to University College from the sixteenth century until 2003, when it was put up for sale at a guide price of £1.2million (along with the two adjoining shops and a maisonette). In 2004 it was bought by St John’s College (who also own the Lamb & Flag on the other side of the road), and when Mitchell & Butler’s lease expires, the college will take over the management, and may well use the profits to provide student bursaries. The annual income from the pub at the time of purchase was £91,000.
The first record of the pub’s present name is in 1684, when Richard Platt was granted a licence to hang out a sign depicting the coronet with an eagle and child that appears on the crest of the Earl of Derby. The pub was a popular haunt of the diarist Anthony Wood in the seventeenth century.
In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. The house that forms the north end of this pub was then in the occupation of Mr Hart (with a frontage of 3 yards 1 feet 6 inches) and the house that forms the south end in the occupation of Mr Green senior (with a frontage of 3 yards 2 feet 6 inches).
The Eagle & Child was a modest beerhouse (rather than an inn like the Lamb & Flag across the road), and landlords in the nineteenth century usually had a second occupation, probably leaving much of the work of running the beerhouse to their wives.
1841 census: William Tew
1851 census: Thomas Kerwood, who lived here with his wife, three children, and a 14-year-old girl servant, was primarily a dairyman. By 1861 he was dead, and his wife ran the beerhouse on her own, probably helped by her 21-year-old daughter Emily. A servant described as a dairymaid was also living at the beerhouse, indicating that a small dairying business was still being practised
1881 census: John Buckland Earl, who was primarily a tailor, lived here with his wife Rebecca and his grandson, an apprentice decorator.
1890s: Arthur Holliday, a dog specialist, had this pub.
From the 1930s to the 1960s the Inklings (including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) met in the “Rabbit Room” at the back of this pub.
Occupants of the Eagle & Child,
48/49 St Giles’ Street
listed in censuses and directories
|1839–1846||William Tew (or Jew), Beer retailer|
Dairyman and Beer retailer (1851, 1852)
Mrs Ann Kerwood (1861–1872)
|1875–1884||John B. Earl|
|1887–1890||Charles Launchbury, Beer retailer|
|1891–1895||Arthur Holliday, Dog specialist|
|1896–1911|| John Kempson,
Beer retailer (1896–1908)
Mrs Kate Kempson (1909–1911)
|1918–1956|| Charles F. Blagrove,
Beer retailer (1918–1949)
Mrs F. Blagrove, Beer retailer (1952–1956)
|1956–present||Eagle & Child Public
(Landlords not listed in directories after 1956)