All Nations Christian College
|Town or city||Ware|
|Client||Thomas Fowell Buxton|
|Design and construction|
Unlike some Bible colleges, the focus of ANCC is primarily missiological - that is, it is focused on training people for cross-cultural Christian mission service anywhere in the world, in Britain or overseas. The Bachelor's degree course offered by the college is in "Biblical and Intercultural Studies", representing the division in the syllabus between personal development, biblical, and intercultural elements of the course.
The history of All Nations has been recorded in 2 books. The first was, "The Story of Easneye", by Gratton Tetley. This book was written to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the combined colleges and was, in itself, a revision of the booklet, "The Story of Easneye" written by the founding Principal, David Morris in 1976. The second book - and the definitive history of the 3 colleges that merged in 1971 - is "Missionary Training - The History of A.N.C.C. And Its Predecessors 1911 to 1981". This was a PhD thesis of former Principal, Dr David Harley, and was published in 2000 by Boekencentrum, Utrecht University.
As already intimated the current All Nations is the result of the merger in 1971 of 3 Colleges; all of them preparing people to work in cross-cultural (missionary)service overseas. In order of foundation these Colleges were: Mt Hermon Missionary Training College (1911), Ridgelands Bible College (1919), and All Nations Bible College (1923). The latter changed its name to All Nations Missionary College in 1962 (just prior to its move from Taplow, Bucks to Easneye Mansion near Ware in 1964). The first two of these Colleges exclusively trained women while A.N.M.C. trained both single men and married couples.
All Nations in its various guises had always maintained cordial relations with the other two colleges - to the extent of sharing Council Members and teachers at times. In the freer atmosphere brought in by the 1960s it became more and more evident to the Principals of Mt Hermon (Meg Foote) and All Nations (David Morris)that it was time to bring the Colleges together and to train men and women, singles and marrieds, in one enlarged institution. Ridgelands College was approached and they readily agreed to be involved with such a vision. (Redcliffe College at Chiswick was also approached but their Trustees were not convinced that it would be a move they could undertake). The books mentioned above note that although the era was known as the "Swinging Sixties" there was still residual resistance and conservatism in some quarters about such a co-educational merger. Despite these reservations,however, David Morris and Meg Foote persisted with their objectives and in 1971 the 3 schools merged under the title of All Nations Christian College.
The actual location of the new, merged College had taken some time to resolve but, after looking at a wide range of available properties in the Home Counties, it was eventually decided to buy the Easneye Mansion and 15 acres (61,000 m2) of land that had been rented and used by ANMC from 1964 to the date of the merger.This was enlarged and developed with the proceeds coming from the sale of the other two Colleges.
"Easneye Mansion" had been the family home of the Buxtons since being built by Thomas Fowell Buxton (Jnr) in 1868. Buxton's father, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton (Snr), had made his fortune (along with Messrs Truman and Hanbury) by brewing and popularizing porter (beer), which was considered to be a cheaper, more nutritious and healthier alternative to the gin which was rotting the insides of the working classes of the early 19th century. Sir Thomas was a Christian man of great integrity and social conscience. He was a member of the so-called Clapham Sect and it was to him that the ailing William Wilberforce entrusted the oversight of the Emancipation of Slaves Bill which Buxton eventually got through Parliament in 1832.This earned him not only a Baronetcy but also the title of "The Liberator". His sister in law was the penal reformer, Elizabeth Fry, and Buxton can be seen (wearing glasses) alongside Fry on the back of an English five pound note. This brewery was successful and its fortune eventually enabled his son to buy a 2,300 Hertfordshire estate at Easneye (Saxon for water-island) and build a mansion as a residence for his family, under the direction of the noted architect, Alfred Waterhouse (also responsible for the design of the Natural History Museum, Manchester Free Trade Hall, the Prudential Building, Holborn and many other significant buildings).
As the Buxtons moved into Easneye, Rachel, the wife of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton Snr, Hannah, wrote a letter expressing her desire for a dedication service to be held. This letter,in view of its later missionary occupants, had the following, remarkably prophetic, prayer within it; "(may) this house ever be inhabited by faithful servants of God in and through Jesus Christ .. and may this place be a fountain of blessing in the church and in the world". During the lifetime of the owner all available family and employees would gather in the Main Hall for morning prayers to be offered on behalf of the estate, the church and the world. Indeed one of the Buxton family (Barclay) went as a missionary to Japan while some of the household servants also went overseas in Christian service.
This was the heritage into which the newly merged College entered and which has provided such an uplifting spiritual legacy ever since. The Principals of the College since the merger of 1971 have been:-
- 1971-1981: David Morris. Meg Foote, principal of Mount Hermon, became vice-principal in 1971.
- 1981-1982: Meg Foote (Acting Principal)
- 1982-1985: Dr Ray Windsor
- 1985-1993: Rev Dr David Harley
- 1993-2001: Rev Dr Christopher J. H. Wright
- 2001-2006: Rev Joe Kapolyo
- 2006-2007: Rev Dr Bob Hunt, (Senior Tutor and Acting Principal)
Since 2006, the college has restructured its governance. Instead of a principal, the overall directional role of the college is carried by its CEO, and other members of staff serve on the Leadership Team.
- 2006- : CEO: Mike Wall
The college contains the largest missiological library in Europe, with over 50,000 volumes and 40,000 indexed articles. It subscribes to over 100 periodicals with back issues of a further 200.
The college's student accommodation consists of the original Buxton house (Main House) which contains the married couples' accommodation (the Wainery), plus the former stables and coach house, along with a custom-built accommodation block (Oak House, built in 1971, houses 70 students). The Academic Block was also built in 1971 and features two large lecture halls as well as tutors' offices. The lecture halls are fitted with induction loops for the hard of hearing.
Computing facilities are available in the coach house, with a network of virtual terminals; a wireless LAN is available throughout most of the campus. There is also a nursery for the 2-5s, a baby nursery, games room, and various leisure and sports facilities.
The primary course is Biblical and Intercultural Studies. It is available as a Certificate, Diploma, or BA (Hons) Degree. While a college qualification is internationally recognised by missionary societies, students can choose to be accredited by the Open University.
Contemporary Mission Studies is available as a PG Certificate, PG Diploma, or MA.
Short courses of ten weeks are available titled En Route, running alongside the regular courses. Additional courses during the breaks include Refresh for Mission for existing missionaries, the International Dance School for artists, and the Islamics Course.