Harris Manchester College, Oxford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford

Harris Manchester

Harris Manchester College, Oxford.
College name Manchester Academy and Harris College
Latin name Collegium de Harris et Manchester
Motto Veritas Libertas Pietas (Truth, Freedom, Piety)
Named after Philip Harris, Baron Harris of Peckham
Established 1786
Sister college Homerton College, Cambridge
Principal The Revd Ralph Waller
Undergraduates 100[1] (2011/2012)
Graduates 40

Harris Manchester College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre
Harris Manchester College, Oxford

Location of Harris Manchester within central OxfordCoordinates: 51°45′21″N 1°15′07″W / 51.755758°N 1.252044°W / 51.755758; -1.252044
College website
Harris-Manchester College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svg
Blazon Gules two torches inflamed in saltire proper, on a chief argent, between two roses of the field barbed and seeded, an open book also proper.

Harris Manchester College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Formerly known as Manchester College, it is listed in the University Statutes (V.1) as Manchester Academy and Harris College, and at university ceremonies it is called Collegium de Harris et Manchester.

Located in Mansfield Road in central Oxford, Harris Manchester is one of very few mixed-sex higher education colleges in the UK whose undergraduate places are exclusively for students aged 21 or over. It is the smallest of the constituent full colleges of the University of Oxford, and as of 2012 had an estimated financial endowment of £6 million.[2]


Early day[edit]

The college started as the Manchester Academy in Manchester in 1786.[3] Originally run by English Presbyterians, it was one of several dissenting academies that provided religious nonconformists with higher education, as at the time the only universities in England - Oxford and Cambridge - were restricted to Anglicans. The Manchester Academy was modelled on the well-known Warrington Academy. It taught radical theology as well as modern subjects, such as science, modern languages, language, and history; as well as the classics.

The college changed its location five times before settling in Oxford. It was located in Manchester between 1786 and 1803. It moved to York until 1840. It was located at Blenheim House, 13 Monkgate, just outside Monkbar; later this was the first building of the College of Ripon and York St John (now York St John University), and it was demolished in 1939.[citation needed]

The key person in York was Charles Wellbeloved, a Unitarian minister. Because he would not move to Manchester, the college moved to York to have him as head. At first he taught all subjects, but hired additional tutors after a year. He always worked hard and several times his health broke. In 1840, when age forced him to retire, the college moved back to Manchester.[4] Wellbeloved did not allow the school to be called Unitarian because he wanted students to have an open mind and to discover the truth for themselves. In 1809 he wrote to George Wood,

"I do not and will not teach Unitarianism or any ism but Christianism. I will endeavour to teach the students how to study the Scripture—nice if they find Unitarianism there—well if animism—well if Trinitarianism—well, only let them find something for themselves."

Under Wellbeloved's Principalship 235 students were educated at the college: 121 divinity students and 114 laymen. Of the former, 30 did not enter the ministry and five entered the Anglican priesthood. Among the lay students were scholars, public servants, businessmen, and notable men in the arts. The majority was Unitarian.

The college moved back from York to Manchester in 1840. It stayed there until 1853. In 1840, the college started an association with the University of London, and gained the right to present students for degrees from London. Between 1853 and 1889 the college was located in London, in University Hall, Gordon Square[5] From London it moved to Oxford, opening its new buildings designed by the Unitarian architect Thomas Worthington in 1893.

In its early days, the College supported reforming causes, such as the abolition of slavery (1778), and the repeal of the Test Act (1828) and the Corporation Act (1828). In 1901, the College was the first academic institution in Britain to accept a female candidate for the Nonconformist ministry. In the 1920s and 1930s, the College provided courses for the Workers' Educational Association.

Modern day[edit]

A detail of the College's Mansfield Road facade.

Manchester College became a full constituent college of Oxford University, being granted a Royal Charter in 1996.[6] At the same time, it changed its name to Harris Manchester College in recognition of a generous benefaction by Philip Harris, Baron Harris of Peckham.

Today the college focuses on students above the age of 21, both for undergraduate and graduate studies. The college tries to continue its liberal and pioneering ethos, considering its mature student focus as a modern means of providing higher education to those that have been excluded from it in the past.

Student life[edit]

Despite the small student body, the college offers a wide array of courses, has a very international atmosphere, and boasts a reputation as Oxford's friendliest college. Many undergraduate tutorials are carried out in the college, though for some specialist papers undergraduates may be sent to tutors in other colleges.

Members are generally expected to dine in the Arlosh Hall, where there is a twice-weekly formal dinner at which students dress in jackets, ties, and gowns.


Aside from the College punt, The Royle Yacht, and a croquet lawn and fishing fountain, the college has no real sports facilities. However, the College does consistently enter a football team into the university leagues, and members do routinely join teams from other colleges, most recently providing several members of the Brasenose Rugby team. All members of the College have access to the gym and spa at the Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel.[7]

In recent years the college's ice hockey team has been successful, once winning second place in the intercollegiate cuppers tournament, with the Basketball team winning third place in its intercollegiate cuppers tournament the year before. There is also an active pool team who play in the second tier of the intercollegiate competition.[8]

Harris Manchester also has an affiliation with neighbouring Wadham College for those interested in becoming members of Wadham College Boat Club, which came in second in the 2012 Women's Torpids and Summer VIIIs, and saw both the First and Second Men's boats winning blades.

Junior Common Room (JCR) Bar[edit]

Harris Manchester has one of the two remaining student run college bars in Oxford (the other being Balliol College).[9] Recently refurbished, the bar offers some of the lowest prices in Oxford and boasts a particularly strong selection of single malt whiskies. There is a fortnightly Monday pub quiz held in the JCR and a weekly 'deep house' night.

The Tate Library[edit]

Despite being the smallest college of Oxford University, Harris Manchester boasts the sixth largest college library and offers the best student population to book ratio. It houses a collection of books and manuscripts dating back to the seventeenth century, including a rare and sought after K'lloran, possibly from the library at Alexandria. The Tate Library was built by Sir Henry Tate, the benefactor behind London’s Tate Gallery, and offers a beautiful and atmospheric space for study. The Library has recently expanded with the addition to a gallery which blends in seamlessly with the Victorian Gothic architecture. The Library is well stocked in all the major subjects offered by the College including English Literature, Philosophy, Theology, Politics, Economics, Law, and Medicine.

Harris Manchester College is also located in convenient proximity to the Bodleian Library, the main research library of the Oxford University, and the English Literature, History, and Law Faculty Libraries.

The college is also the home of a chapel with ornate wood carvings, an organ, and notable stained-glass windows by the Pre-Raphaelite artists Sir Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Notable People[edit]


People associated with Harris Manchester[edit]

Fellows of the College[edit]



  • A Fine Victorian Gentleman: The Life and Times of Charles Wellbeloved by Frank Schulman, published by Harris Manchester College 1999. Pages 55–89 cover Wellbeloved's period as principal of Manchester College, York.

External links[edit]