‘The Trout’ & ‘The Eagle’ – Following in the footsteps of Lewis, Lewis & Lewis
July 4, 2010

Nicci has just moved into a ‘new’ flat in Oxford and yesterday we were invited over to see it. Very nice it is too!  Gem had also come up from London for a viewing and so we were all able to go out for lunch together.

As it was another summer scorcher (how long can it last?), we drove out to one of our favourite riverside pubs, The Trout Inn at Lower Wolvercote. It enjoys a beautiful location, on the Thames, beneath the medieval Godstow Bridge and weir. There’s also a restored timber bridge, connecting the pub terrace  to a small island,  across which peacocks regularly parade and display for the paying customers.    

The pub and its immediate environs enjoy an interesting mix of literary connections:

It was back in 1862 that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), a lecturer in mathematics at Christchurch College, took Alice Liddell and her sisters for boat trips along the river to Godstow. Whilst picnicking on the riverbank he entertained them with imaginative tales that would later be published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.      

Oxford don JRR Tolkien (1892-1973), creator of the epic middle earth trilogy Lord of the Rings, the hobbits Bilbo & Frodo Baggins and Gandalf the wizard, is buried at Wolvercote Cemetery.

In more recent times The Trout has featured as a TV location for Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse detective series. In the Wolvercote Tongue episode, in which a Saxon artefact of the same name disappears, Morse and his sidekick, Sergeant Lewis, are filmed on Godstow Bridge gazing down at the floodlit pub.        

Another ‘family favourite’ Oxford pub of ours (sadly not enough time to visit yesterday), is the splendid Eagle & Child on St Giles’. This was a regular haunt of ‘the inklings’  literary group, who fondly referred to it as the Bird & Baby. Prominent amongst the group were JRR and CS Lewis (1898-1963).  It was here that CSL shared early drafts of his Narnia fantasy The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe with his contemporaries.    

Colin Dexter is a modern-day regular and the pub is featured in the Morse Book, the Secret of Annexe 3. In one scene, the long-suffering Inspector Lewis on accompanying  Morse to the Eagle & Child, is intrigued by a plaque on the wall referring to his literary namesake!