The parish of Eynsham still boasts 8 pubs, pictured in this gallery, and one in the separate hamlet of Barnard Gate, just west along the A40. There's a paved cycle path all the way if you fancy a pub crawl: 1.5miles.
We have a print-friendly map of central establishments, with cafés, pubs and restaurants marked in violet. There is also an interactive map, allowing you to zoom right in to Streetview level, or out again for the bigger picture.
Eynsham Record 14, 1997 (pages 5-10) reports on Public Houses in Eynsham in the 19th century. There were 14 drinking establishments in 1851 - one for every 70 adults!
The Junior History Group's first special issue Do You Remember an Inn? was also published in 1997.
We have images of 3 "lost" pubs in another gallery >>
The Boot Inn lies in the separate hamlet of Barnard Gate, just north of the A40. There's a paved cycle path between the two villages if you fancy a pub crawl: 1.5miles.
Eynsham's youngest hostelry, developed alongside the A40 to accommodate a new motoring public. The decor aimed to give a feeling of luxury, comfort and solidity:
Mr Lowe provided "all meals from breakfast till after theatre supper". He listed among the guests the Wasps Rugger team; the Australian cricketers; the Gloucestershire bowling team; the Heythrop Hunt, who held two invitation meets there; the Christ Church Beagles and parents of boys and girls at school in Oxford and Cheltenham.
Extract from the study Do You Remember an Inn?
Full of character, despite the unimposing facade, with an intriguing Cornish connection. A branch favorite of Oxford CAMRA: "I do remember that I had a very nice pint of White Horse Village Idiot, and that we sat in the snug lounge bar admiring the railway memorabilia."
Also included in Helen Peacocke's guide, Paws Under the Table.
In 1957 the Oxford Mail commented on the skill and enthusiasm of the landlord, John Thornton, as an amateur flower grower. "At that time much of the custom came from Oxfordshire business men and some Americans from Brize Norton. It was the headquarters of the Eynsham Cricket Club. It also had a completely separate room for darts and claimed to be the only Eynsham pub where they played shove-ha'penny." (Extract from Do You Remember an Inn?)
Football fans often talk about a game of two halves. Well, this is a pub of two halves - whether you turn left or right as you enter makes a considerable difference. The bar to the left provides a cosy nook with a fireplace and pictures of the golden age of steam, when trains ran to and from Eynsham with passengers and freight. Its sedate, snug feel is ideal for keeping winter chills at bay.
The bar to the right tends to attract a slightly younger crowd interested in pub sports and the jukebox, and the photos on the walls are of craggy, snow-blown peaks due to the Queen’s Head having its own mountain-climbing club (as well as being the home of Eynsham Cricket Club).
However, this bar also enjoys a laid-back and genial atmosphere. The Queen’s Head wouldn’t claim to serve gourmet food (none of Eynsham’s hostelries are renowned for their culinary creations), but the grub is affordable and tasty (the veggie curry and the sausages and mash in particular). The house wine (£9 a bottle) seems popular even with folk who aren’t dining.
Beer fans will be more likely to opt for a pint of Tribute or Doombar, two reliable Cornish ales which are usually on tap. Despite the pub’s distance from the coast, the Cornish influence here is strong - as well as getting a decent pasty, you can even book accommodation at a cottage near Falmouth.
They say it’s all about location, location, location - and the Red Lion certainly is in a sweet spot. Not only does it overlook Eynsham’s Square, allowing drinkers the chance to sip a pint at tables while they watch they world go by, it’s handily placed near the S1 bus stop. Hence it’s popular with those who fancy one for the road before they head off to Oxford for a night out.
Perhaps the opportunity to attract a younger demographic might explain why the beer selection is far from inspired - this is a Greene King watering hole, after all - and real ale fans won’t find a great deal to delight them. In fact, if you are choosy about your tipple you may find yourself browsing the bottled stuff instead - Newcastle Brown and Mann’s are usually available. [UPDATE 2012: under new management - worth another visit].
The Red Lion is reputed to be the oldest pub in the village, but few people are likely to visit on account of its history. Nor is it going to be the pub of choice for those who regard themselves as hip and trendy. The décor isn’t flashy or fashionable, with its old-school red carpet and dark wood. But it’s quite friendly, the TV shows Sky and the music playing in the background is varied.
The pub’s convenient location can make it a crowded place when there’s a function at St Leonard’s Church a stone’s throw away, such as a concert by the Eynsham Choral Society, when you can expect long queues at the bar and for the toilets (which, a sign at the entrance reminds customers, are for patrons only).
"... a pub with a layout that wraps around the bar and features quiet seating by the car park windows (for the old folks) and darts, tele, and a snooker table toward the back half (y’know, for the kids). The seating at the bar itself, on the old guy side of the pub, seemed to suit ..."
Does anyone know why the AJS & Matchless Owners Club (Oxford) has been using this particular function room for years, of all the places in Oxfordshire?
Gone but not forgotten - back in the days when this was the starting point for Eynsham Carnival
The Star Inn closed in 2009 and plans for nine residential units on the site were approved in 2010.
If you’re not a sports fan you might think twice about a visit to the Swan, which has prominent signs outside advertising that Sky Sports is available. However, while the pub’s TV screens are often aglow with Premier League action and the interior is decorated with footy paraphernalia (Sunderland, rather than Oxford United, by the way), this is not just a place for football pundits or folk interested in playing pool and darts in the sports bar.
The sign warning customers that they are being watched by CCTV may sound ominous but is no more than a reminder of what is now the norm in many public places; and there’s a cheery feel to the Swan, which offers B&B accommodation and has a decent reputation in this regard.
The fact that the shelves around the lounge bar are decked with dozens of quaint old beer bottles is a hint that punters who care about a decent bitter or pale ale should find something to their liking on tap here.
The food isn’t bad either; on weekdays it’s served until 21:00. Main courses such as lamb shanks with new potatoes cost about £7 and there’s a kids’ menu deal for £4.50.
As with several other pubs in the village, the Swan provides function facilities.
The 8-room extension, opened in summer 2008 alongside the Wharf Stream.
Deck beside the Wharf Stream
A pub with a very ancient pedigree, going back to Abbot Adam's development of the New Land in 1215.
In 1849 it was sold for £510 and was described as having "four bedrooms, a parlour, a tap room, a pantry, cellar, brewhouse, skittle alley, grocer's shop, piggery and stables." (Extract from Do You Remember an Inn?)
For more information see our feature on Listed Buildings.
A contender for the title of village hub, this is the finishing point for the famous Shirt Race (preceding Eynsham Carnival), with teams of costumed runners slaking their thirst beside their wacky vehicles.
The pub plays host to the Eynsham Morris, the Morris Car Club, the Road Runners, British Legion and the Rotary Club. It hosts Aunt Sally teams in summer and crib in winter, and quiz and darts teams all-year-round.
The beer selection includes the ‘usual suspects’, but you can also be assured of more intriguing guest ales to wash down the popular steak dinners. Don’t turn up hungry on a Monday evening, though, as food isn’t served then.
The White Hart is quite cosy, and if you’re inclined simply to read, there are usually a few tabloids and magazines by the fireplace (which features old artillery shells among the ornaments).
If you fancy Prohibition-era jazz, the Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band drops by occasionally. Dressed as Chicago gangsters, they enjoy a cult following and have played both 2010 and 2011 Glastonbury festivals. Jazz Club nights, in the (small) function room every second Thursday, are free though a bucket is provided for grateful fans. There's also an entry fee to the local Folk Club on the first Sunday of the month, unless you're performing.
The beer garden is sizeable and attractive, making the White Hart something of a seasonal all-rounder. Bed & breakfast accommodation is offered too.