Regent's Park College, Oxford
|Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford
Regent's Park College
|College name||Regent's Park College, Oxford|
|Latin name||Collegium de Principis Cum Regentis Paradiso|
|Named after||Regent's Park, London|
|Previously named||Stepney Academy (to 1856)|
|Established||1810, incorporating an education society founded 1752|
|Principal||Revd. Robert Ellis|
Location of Regent's Park College within central OxfordCoordinates:
|Blazon||Argent on a cross gules an open Bible proper irradiated or the pages inscribed with the words DOMINUS JESUS in letters sable on a chief wavy azure fish or.|
Founded in 1810, the College moved to its present site in 1927, and became a licenced Hall of the University in 1957. The College now admits both undergraduate and graduate students to take Oxford degrees in a variety of Arts, Humanities and Social Science subjects. It is one of the only academic institutions within the University of Oxford to have accepted women as well as men since before the mid-twentieth century, with women attending the College since the 1920s. The College also trains men and women for ordained ministry among Baptist churches in Great Britain and overseas.
Regent's Park College traces its roots to the formation of the London Baptist Education Society in 1752. This venture led to the development of the Stepney Academy in East London in 1810 - The impetus for the creation of the Academy arose from the fact that only members of the Church of England were given places at ancient universities. In 1810 there were only three students, but by 1850 the number had risen to 26.
In 1849 Dr Joseph Angus (Principal 1849–1893) became Principal at just 33 years old. At the beginning of his time as Principal, Angus admitted a small number of lay students to college. His belief was that it would benefit the ministerial students to have contact with them as well as bringing much needed finances to the Academy. After sites in Gordon Square and Primrose Hill were considered, on 12 December 1855 Angus decided to relocate the College to Holford House in the rural environs of Regent's Park and to rename the Academy 'Regent's Park College'. Holford House was a private dwelling built in the classical Georgian style on crown land. Students were able to read for university degrees in the Arts and Law, as well as training for Christian ministry.
After many long ties with University College London which trace back to 1856, In 1901 the College became an official Divinity School of the University of London. In 1920 G. P. Gould (1896–1920) passed the role of Principal on to H. Wheeler Robinson, a post he would hold until 1942. Wheeler Robinson was educated at Regent's Park College for one session; he then went to Edinburgh University and finally onto Mansfield College, Oxford. Wheeler Robinson believed that Oxford was a more congenial setting than London for a college. This belief, coupled with the lure of the advantages of the tutorial system and the fact that the Baptist Church remained the only Free Church denomination without a college in one of the ancient universities, led Wheeler Robinson to decide to relocate the college to Oxford.
Relocation to Oxford
In 1927 the main portion of the site was purchased and the buildings, including various farm buildings and two wells in Pusey Street were secured shortly afterwards from St John's College. The college appointed Mr T Harold Hughes (1897–1949) as the Architect for the site. Hughes was responsible for much extension and restoration work in Oxford including Exeter College, Hertford College and Corpus Christi College  The first four students arrived in 1928. At this time many of the classes were held at Mansfield College and other lectures were held at various other colleges. However, as early as 1924 Wheeler Robinson started to promote his plans for a new building scheme on the Oxford site to former students. Between 1935 and 1938 he and E. A. Payne spoke a various meetings and raised £20,000 of the £50,000 needed for the project. The foundation stones for Helwys Hall were laid on 21 July 1938 by representatives from the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, The Particular Baptist Fund, The Baptist Missionary Society. Stones were also laid in memory of Angus and Gould, former Principals of the college.
Main Block, consisting of 16 study bedrooms, Helwys Hall, the College Library, the Senior Common Room and part of the building on Pusey Street, were constructed from 1938-1940, but the outbreak of the Second World War along with a lack of funds meant that the ambitious plans for the completion of the Quadrangle had to be put on hold. In 1957 Regent's Park College became a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford. During this period the college once again started to accept non-ministerial undergraduates and new buildings on Pusey Street were erected to accommodate the College's growing size, thus completing the Quadrangle with four sides. Since then, the student body has grown to include around 110 undergraduate students and 50 graduates, as well as ministerial students. The Balding student accommodation block was built in 1960, and a large window was fitted in a three-storey high wall overlooking Balding Quadrangle, behind the main Quadrangle - allegedly the largest single pane of glass in Europe. In 1977 the Angus student accommodation block was built, thus providing Balding Quadrangle with an extra side. Extra accommodation was built in Wheeler Robinson House in 1988. When Greyfriars Hall closed in 2008 the remaining 30 students joined Regent's Park College.
Regent's Park College is located just off of St Giles' in the heart of Oxford, near to other colleges St Cross College and St John's College. The site is based around a large neoclassical quadrangle (as seen in the adjacent picture). The quadrangle is well known for the extensive virginia creeper which covers most of the buildings. On the south side of the quad is the college entrance and lodge. On the west side is the Hall, with two Ionic columns flanking the main entrance to the room. The names ‘Thomas Helwys’ and ‘William Carey’ are carved on either side of the glass door leading into the Hall. Thomas Helwys was a religious refugee in Holland and returned to England to start the first Baptist church. Carey was a missionary to India and inspired the foundation of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792.
Helwys Hall, known affectionately by some in the undergraduate community as 'Hell Hall' or, more rarely, 'Hell Hole', is an imposing room with a very high ceiling clad in Canadian pine. Above the High Table there is a symbolic representation of the main emphases of Baptist life and faith designed by Dr H Wheeler Robinson (Principal 1920–1942). Helwys Hall is home to a series of portraits which, taken together, present a brief history of the college. Most of the former Principals' portraits are displayed including a recent portrait of Professor Paul Fiddes. There are also portraits of Joshua Marshman, Hannah Marshman, William Carey, and Willam Ward who were all missionaries to India and Andrew Fuller who was a missionary and first secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society. Helwys Hall was completely renovated in 2009 with a gift to the Annual Fund from an anonymous donor.
The Senior Common Room
The Senior Common Room (SCR), which is used by academic and administrative staff, was provided by a gift from the nieces and nephews of Dr George Pearce Gould (Principal 1896–1920). One of the striking features of the room is the portrait of Dr. Gould which hangs over an Adams brothers mantelpiece. Facing Gould is a portrait of William Kiffin which dates back to 1667. The SCR was refurbished in 2008 using gifts to the College's Annual Fund from the American Friends of Regent's Park College.
The Staircase which leads from the doors of Helwys Hall up to the Library was designed by Hughes and attempts to express the effect that reading Dr Pearce Carey's life of William Carey had upon him. The balustrade exhibits strength, simplicity and an out-flowing floral design which recall Carey's life and work. Each landing has a striking 1930s window which looks out over the gardens of St Cross College.
The College Library
The College Library is on the third floor of the College above Helwys Hall, and houses many key works relating to theology, as well as many works on history, geography and politics. It is furnished with dark wood and contains graduate study rooms as well as a number of computers.
In the Library there is a semi-circular window with sixteen panels, on which is etched a map of the world with many interesting symbols and emblems. The window came from the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1937 and is a fine example of modern glass work. The library contains portraits of both William Carey and John Bunyan, and outside it hangs a portrait of Henry Havelock.
The Collier Room"' The Collier Room was provided by a gift from Mr H. H. Collier who was a member of College Council for many years and the one who conducted the negotiations for the purchase of the site. The room was refurbished in 2010 using a gift to the College's Annual Fund from The American Friends of Regent's Park College and Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church.
The Craig Knight Room
The Craig Knight room is a seminar room which seats 16 people. The room is named after Craig F. Knight, an alumnus of the college who was invested as the College’s first member of the Vice Chancellor's Circle in 2008.
The Angus Library and Archive
The Angus Library and Archive is a scholarship library holding many volumes and documents which are critical to the understanding of Baptist history and culture, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is based on the site of the College. The core of the collection was left to Regent's Park College by Dr. Joseph Angus who was Principal from 1849 to 1893. The Angus now comprises over 70,000 printed books, pamphlets, journals, church and association records, church histories, manuscript letters and other artifacts from the late fifteenth century to the present day. The collection relates to the life and history of Baptists in Britain and the wider world. Alongside this unique insight into Baptist and nonconformist history there is a considerable amount of material from non-Baptist sources relating to issues and controversies in which Baptists were involved.
The Angus Library and Archive is used by international scholars researching Baptist history, the history of Dissent in the UK, the social history of foreign missions and linguistics. It is also used by members of the public researching, among other things, the history of their families or local communities. Each year there are in the region of 1000 requests for information from outside the University of Oxford. The people involved in research come from a variety of countries including the USA, Australia, China, India, the Caribbean and Europe.
The Junior Common Room
The JCR is a large oak paneled room which is adorned with the pictures of Regent's many sports teams. The room also has a JCR Presidents' board with the name of every JCR President and a board recording all Regent's students who have received a Blue from the University. When heads of houses and bursars made a recent inspection of all the Junior Common Rooms in Oxford it was agreed that Regent's' recently refurbished, wood-panelled common room is one of the finest there is.
The college also owns seventeenth- and eighteenth-century houses which face out onto St. Giles' as well as more recent developments, such as Wheeler Robinson House, which is used for third year accommodation, and Gould House and Angus House, both of which are used either for undergraduates or tutors. All accommodation is on-site, or less than a three minute walk away from the main College buildings.
In line with all other Colleges and Halls of the University of Oxford, students are admitted and matriculated according to the Oxford admissions procedures. The College specialises in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Students are provided with accommodation in the first and final years of study. In the first year this usually takes the form of a study bedroom, whereas in the third year students tend to live on site in flats in either Wheeler Robinson House, the Gould Building or the Angus Building.
Regent's Park College students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities. There are sports teams in football, rowing, netball and basketball as well as opportunities to play other sports for other University colleges.
The Junior Common Room also provides Arts activities, such as an annual play and pantomime, as well as several social societies. The Junior Common Room itself is a large oak-panelled room, including leather sofas, a sound system for bi-termly parties (bops), a football table. The College Bar includes a TV and quiz machine. There is also a free DVD rental library.
Each summer, the college hosts a themed ball named The Final Fling. Croquet and Pimms are enjoyed on the Quad, which is also occupied by the college tortoise Emmanuelle. Emmanuelle is around 90 years old, and has won the Corpus Christi Tortoise Fair twice, as well as appearing on Blue Peter.
The College motto is: Omnia probate quod bonum tenete. It is taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:21: "Test all things; hold fast to that which is good" (A.V.)
Grace and Hall
The college Grace is recited in the vernacular by the Principal of the College, and runs as follows: For the gifts of your grace and the community of this college, we praise your name, O God. Amen. At the end of the Formal Hall, the Senior Common Room depart after the Principal has said the words "The grace and peace of God be with us all. Amen".
In the early days of the college at Oxford there was a Latin grace which was thought to be composed by Dr Aubrey Argyle: Agimus Tibi gratias, Omnipotens Deus, pro his et universis donis Tuis quae de Tua largitate sumus sumturi, Per Jesum Christum, Dominum Nostrum. Amen. This was allegedly swiftly dropped as Henry Wheeler Robinson, then Principal, observed a strict 'no-Latin' policy in Hall, and to this day it is forbidden for any member of College to speak in Latin in Hall - in the old days offenders were thrown into a bath of cold water (there is now no punishment enforced). It has also traditionally been the case that there is no Loyal Toast at college dinners. Around the turn of the millennium the Dean even remonstrated with guests from a different college in order to prevent the Toast being proposed.
Regent’s is one of the last colleges to have waiter service at both lunch and dinner. Unlike many other Oxford colleges, the same menu is served to all members of college and there is no High Table apart from at formal halls. It also observes a tradition that Grace is said at every meal, with students and dons alike standing behind their chairs until it has been said.
The principal ceremonial occasion in the college year is the Service of Valediction, which takes place on the afternoon of the last day of Full Term in Trinity (always a Saturday). The most important part of the ceremony is the signing of the register by members of the Junior and Middle Common Rooms whose periods of study have come to an end. This is different from the practice at other colleges that maintain a register (now a minority of colleges), where the signing takes place at the beginning of a student's course.
A tradition from the nineteenth century, which is now somewhat forgotten (despite having been common even in the early years of the twenty-first century) was that first-year students of the College are called 'monarchs' and their elder colleagues are known as 'Regents'. This was to remind older students that they had a duty of care to the younger members, much as a regent has a duty of care to an infirm monarch (the metaphor appears to have been drawn from the Regency of George IV, after whom Regent's Park in London, the college's namesake, is named).
Ernest A. Payne, a former alumnus of the College who attended Regent's during its move to Oxford in the 1920s, mentions in passing during a lecture delivered in the 1970s there there was at one time a College song, which was sung as the students vacated the premises in Regent's Park. The chorus of the song was cited by Payne to have been as follows: So we raise, as time goes by, Our Marseillaise, our battle-cry, Forward Regent's!" 
People associated with the College
- Robin Attfield, professor of philosophy at Cardiff University
- Malcolm Bishop, judge and barrister
- The Rev. Simon Bailey, priest and author
- William Brock (1807–1875), abolitionist, biographer and supporter of missionary societies
- T. Davis Bunn, novelist in residence
- Isabella Bunn, Vice Chair of the Central Committee on Human Rights and Global Corporate Responsibility of the American Bar Association
- Wayne Clarke, award-winning broadcaster
- The Rev. Christopher Ellis, former principal of the Bristol Baptist College
- The Rev. Robert Ellis academic and Principal of Regent's Park College, Oxford
- Malcolm Evans, professor of International Law
- The Rev. Paul Fiddes, professor of Systematic Theology, former Principal of Regent's Park College, and Honorary Fellow of St Peter's College
- James Gandhi, child actor and writer from the BBC children's show Dani's House
- Steve Hall, British comedian, member of We Are Klang
- Major-General Henry Havelock, British general instrumental in the Indian Rebellion of 1857
- Violet Hedger, first ever female ordained Baptist minister
- Donald Foster Hudson, Baptist missionary and author.
- The Rev. Jesse Jackson is an Honorary Fellow of the college
- The Rev. R. T. Kendall, writer and minister of Westminster Chapel
- Tamsin Kendrick, British poet and writer
- Alexandra Knatchbull, descendant of Queen Victoria and god-daughter of Diana, Princess of Wales
- The Rev. Alan Kreider, Associate Professor of Church History and Mission at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
- Walter John Mathams, sailor, hymn-writer and founder of the Ladies' Guild of the Sailors' Society
- Frederick Brotherton Meyer, evangelist, writer, and moral reformer
- Gregory Norminton, novelist
- W. Wesley Pue, legal historian at the University of British Columbia
- The Rev. H. Wheeler Robinson, Old Testament scholar, President
- Olin C Robison, diplomat, thirteenth President of Middlebury College, Vermont
- Philip Ryken, pastor and author
- Dhirendra Sahu, Lord Bishop of Eastern Himalaya; General Secretary, National Council of Churches of India; author
- Canon Jane Shaw, fellow, chaplain, and Dean of Divinity, New College, Oxford
- Stephen Smith, British educationalist
- Cecil Staton, Georgia State Senator (18th District)
- Michael Sullivan, first student President of OUSU, Director of the National Centre for Public Policy
- James Sully, Grote Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic, University College London
- Michael Symmons Roberts, poet
- Thomas Vincent Tymms, Professor of Theology and author
- Robert Warner, Dean of Humanities, University of Chester
- Gould, 1910, 1
- Gould, 1910, p. 56
- Gould, 1910, p. 58
- Cooper, 1960, p. 61
- Gould, 1910, p. 84
- The Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 2010.
- Cooper, 1960, p. 89
- Cooper, 1960, p. 120
- Closure of Greyfriars: University Statement - University of Oxford
- William Carey Society, 2010
- Kreitzer and Rooke, 2006
- Payne, p. 8
- Payne, p. 15
- Angus Library Home
- Regent's Park College, Oxford - Who or What is Regent's Park College, Oxford? Find out more
- Clubs and Societies | Regent's Park College JCR
- JCR | Regent's Park College JCR
- President’s Welcome | Regent's Park College JCR
- Robert E. Cooper, From Stepney to St Giles': the Story of Regent's Park College, 1810-1960, page 25
- Robert E. Cooper, From Stepney to St Giles': the Story of Regent's Park College, 1810-1960 (London: Carey Kingsgate Press, 1960) (148 pages, illustrated)
- Geo. P. Gould, "The Baptist College at Regent's Park (Founded at Stepney 1810): A Centenary Record" (London: The Kingsgate Press, 1910) (99 pages, illustrated)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Regent's Park College, Oxford.|
- Regent's Park College website
- Junior Common Room
- College Prospectus
- Alternative Prospectus
- Regent's Park College student lists