After 450 years, Oxford pub succumbs to COVID

It's served alcohol for over 450 years, and in modern times survived on the love of students and scholars.

But now, Oxford's Lamb and Flag pub has become another casualty of the pandemic. The ancient drinking establishment is being forced to close.

The Lamb and Flag first opened in 1566 and was moved to its present location on St Giles, a broad thoroughfare in the city center, in 1613, where it later became a favorite of authors like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Dave Richardson is a spokesperson for the Campaign for Real Ale.

"It's a place where people come to talk to each other and to enjoy the traditional historic surroundings, and generations of people have done that - students, townspeople, people from afar who are drawn to Oxford because of this pub. It would be a real tragedy to see it disappear."

The Lamb and Flag is owned by St John's College of the University of Oxford but in a statement, deputy bursar Steve Elston announced the pub would close on January 31 as the pub is ''not currently financially viable."

And it's likely it won't be the only pub shutting its doors because of the pandemic.

''If we are not going to lose a vital part of our heritage, it is essential that landlords, owners of these pubs, give them as much leeway as possible to make their way when things get better. This is a very traditional part of English life. Not only is it a place to eat and sometimes drink, but to socialize and people are beginning to appreciate the role of pubs in combating loneliness, which is very much a feature of life today. This is particularly true of village pubs and places like that, I think. So the pub is a really important part of British life and we cannot afford to see any pub close, much less so one as historic and as ingrained into the fabric of a city as this one."

One local lawmaker, Layla Moran from the Liberal Democrats, echoed Richardson's sentiment on Twitter Friday ( January 22) -- calling for the government to provide sufficient support for the Lamb and Flag and other historic venues to survive.