May 2019. After the excitement of King’s College and Wren Library, Irish Mike and I were in need of some lunch and where better to go in Cambridge than one of England’s most historical watering holes! With the day’s pervading greyness and the ever-present threat of rain hanging in the air, we made sharpish tracks to The Eagle Pub on Benet Street. This is where S and I used to come to chill out whenever we came to Cambridge with the Belgian teens during our years working for Roeland English summer camps at Woodbridge, Suffolk. Those were some great, carefree times and I felt more than a little pang of nostalgia as The Eagle came into view for the first time in thirteen years.
May 2019. The Eagle Pub dates all the way back to 1353 when a ramshackle watering hole was opened here offering three gallons of beer for a penny! It wasn’t until 1667 that a more formal establishment sprung up and back then it was christened The Eagle & Child. As you walk through the front door you’ll see this large board proudly heralding two of The Eagle’s most historical claims to fame.
May 2019. It was a typically rainy afternoon in February 1953 that local scientist Francis Crick came marching into The Eagle to inform everyone that he and his research partner James Watson had “discovered the secret to life!” He was referring to the pair’s completion of a new academic paper proposing the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. Both Crick and Watson regularly lunched at The Eagle and today you can honour their achievement by ordering a special house ale called Eagle’s DNA.
May 2019. The Eagle Pub was also the drinking spot of choice for RAF airmen based in and around Cambridge during The Second World War. As the story goes The RAF literally flooded the place at the weekends and many of them burned their names and squadron numbers onto the ceiling of the pub’s back room with cigarette lighters and lipstick. This graffiti still survives today in the room that is now called The RAF Lounge.
It’s always busy at The Eagle Pub, at least that’s been my experience over the years and it was no different that day with Irish Mike as we picked out a free corner table and placed our orders at the bar.
As you’d expect the food at The Eagle is great, with similarly great prices to match. Irish Mike went for a pint of lager shandy and a club ciabatta, while sweet tooth Leighton opted for a coffee and a wedge of the house carrot cake.
Back in my Woodbridge days S and I used to base ourselves in The Eagle’s Beer Garden, so I just had to go and take a look for old times sake. Along the way, I paused to take in the vast array of framed photographs dedicated to the pub’s history and the Cambridge icons who popped in for a drink. One of these was none other than Winnie The Pooh author A.A. Milne, pictured here with his son Christopher Robin.
The Eagle Pub’s beer garden was largely deserted that day as, unbeknown to me, it had started raining while Mike and I were having lunch. It was just myself, the ghosts of my Woodbridge past chatting away at the corner table and this old guy puffing on his pipe as he watched the foot traffic come and go. If I was feeling nostalgic that day (and I was), I’m guessing this dude had built up some memories of his own here over the years. If only I’d had a pipe of my own.
For more information on The Eagle Pub, check out their website here.
Like this? Why not sift though more of my pieces from Cambridge.
Or maybe search further afield with my articles from all around England.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.