Our top 5 stories about Oxford's pubs and breweries


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Without your support we cannot ensure that a new exhibition about Oxford's pubs and breweries becomes a reality. We have fantastic rewards to thank you for your help. Keeping the stories of Oxford's lost pubs and breweries alive is down to you!


The St Scholastica Day riots

The Swindlestock Tavern on Carfax, a stone's throw away from the Museum of Oxford, was the starting place of one of the city's most notorious clashes of Town and Gown in 1355. After a dispute between the landlord and a student over the quality of the wine on offer, a violent riot broke out. Following the deaths of 63 students and an unknown number of townspeople, the subsequent Mayors and bailiffs had to attend mass for those who died for the following 500 years.


College brewhouses

Many of Oxford University's colleges had their own brewhouses. Queen's College's own brewhouse survived until 1939; records on the strength and quantity of beer produced show Queen's could be described as a 'strong-drink college'. A tradition known as sconcing meant that students who misbehaved at mealtimes were made to drink two pints of ale in a go!

More information about brewing at Queen's College can be found here.


The Inklings

The Inklings, the literary group in Oxford that included the likes of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis amongst others, are known for regularly meeting in the Eagle and Child pub on St Giles. Joyce Howe, who was publican of the Lamb and Flag with her husband, remembers the Inklings coming in and enjoying a quiet drink there before heading across the road.


The King of Prussia or The Allied Arms? 

Pubs change names for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it is down to new ownership with a landlord wanting to put their own stamp on their new business. Other times the pubs focus might change to more of a restaurant. But the 'Allied Arms' is another matter. The pub, based in Rose Hill, was initially called the 'King of Prussia'. During WWI the sign for the pub was reported as being knocked down and so the name was changed to the 'Allied Arms' - a far more diplomatic name! It actually then went on to be named 'The Ox' before reverting back to the 'King of Prussia' again.

The 'Allied Arms' pub sign will feature in our new Pubs and Breweries display thanks to your support.


A drinking map

Available in 1883 and priced at twopence, the Drink Map of Oxford shows a basic skeleton plan of the city with symbols showing the locations of pubs, breweries, licences premises, and beer houses. With seven breweries, 143 pubs, 125 beer houses and 44 other licenced premises, there was certainly a lot of choice. More intriguing still was that the map was created to discourage people from drinking alcohol. Published by the Committee of the Oxfordshire Band of Hope and Temperance Union, it was a map to show people where to avoid, particularly highlighting the level of drinking establishments in poorer areas of the city.

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