Regent's Park College, Oxford
|Regent's Park College|
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.
|Full name||Regent's Park College, Oxford|
|Latin name||Collegium de Principis Cum Regentis Paradiso|
|Motto||Omnia probate quod bonum tenete (Latin)|
|Established||1810, incorporating an education society founded 1752|
|Named for||Regent's Park, London|
|Previous names||Stepney Academy (to 1856)|
|Principal||The Revd Dr Robert Ellis|
|Boat club||JCR Website|
Founded in 1810, the College moved to its present site in 1927, and became a licensed 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 few 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.
Origins in London
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 Baptist College, Stepney, in the East End of 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. There were only three students in 1810, 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, Angus decided on 12 December 1855 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 date back to 1856, the College became an official Divinity School of the University of London in 1901. 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 to 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, and 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 to 1940. However, 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. 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 closed in 2008 (having been a Permanent Private Hall since 1958), 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.
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 undergraduate accommodation is on-site, or less than a three-minute walk away from the main College buildings. The college also makes use of some central University accommodation provisions for postgraduates, notably the Castle Mill development in North Oxford and some houses in Wellington Square.
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 Junior Common Room The JCR is a large oak panelled 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 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 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.
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 artefacts 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.
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. During Trinity Term, 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 – in the old days offenders were thrown into a bath of cold water. 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 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). Although less frequently referenced now, the naming tradition lives on through JCR positions such as 'Lake Monarch' (A tongue-in-cheek JCR position created to agitate for the creation of a lake similar to that at Worcester College – a role traditionally held by first-year students).
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 that 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!" 
- Sir Joseph Francis Leese, 1st Baronet, QC, first class cricketer, British lawyer and Liberal politician.
- Alfred Thomas, 1st Baron Pontypridd, politician and Welsh nationalist
- W. H. D. Rouse, Classical scholar and educational reformer.
- Barnaby Thompson, film director and producer.
- Robin Attfield, professor of philosophy at Cardiff University
- Malcolm Bishop, judge and barrister
- The Revd Simon Bailey, priest and author
- William Brock (1807–1875), abolitionist, biographer and supporter of missionary societies
- T. Davis Bunn, novelist in residence
- Wayne Clarke, broadcaster
- The Revd Dr Robert Ellis academic and Principal of Regent's Park College, Oxford
- The Revd Professor 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
- Major-General Henry Havelock, British general instrumental in the Indian Rebellion of 1857
- Donald Foster Hudson, Baptist missionary and author.
- The Revd Jesse Jackson is an Honorary Fellow of the college
- The Revd Dr R. T. Kendall, writer and minister of Westminster Chapel
- Alexandra Knatchbull, descendant of Queen Victoria and god-daughter of Diana, Princess of Wales
- The Revd Dr Alan Kreider, academic.
- Walter John Mathams, sailor, hymn-writer and founder of the Ladies' Guild of the Sailors' Society
- Frederick Brotherton Meyer, evangelist, writer, and moral reformer
- The Revd Dr John Morgan-Wynne, former fellow and Dean of Regent's Park College, and former Principal of Bristol Baptist College
- Gregory Norminton, novelist
- W. Wesley Pue, legal historian at the University of British Columbia
- The Revd Dr H. Wheeler Robinson, Old Testament scholar, President
- Olin C Robison, diplomat, thirteenth President of Middlebury College, Vermont
- Roland Rudd, PR and business consultant
- Philip Ryken, pastor and author
- The Very Revd Dr Jane Shaw, former fellow, chaplain, and Dean of Divinity, New College, Oxford, now Dean of Religion, Stanford University.
- Stephen Smith, British educationalist
- Cecil Staton, Chancellor East Carolina University
- James Sully, philosopher and psychologist
- Michael Symmons Roberts, poet
- Regent's Park College Boat Club
- History of Regent's Park College, Oxford
- Angus Library and Archive
- 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
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- William Carey Society, 2010
-  Archived 11 April 2013 at Archive.is
- Kreitzer and Rooke, 2006
- "Regent's Park College | Regent's Park College". Rpc.ox.ac.uk. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- Robert E. Cooper, From Stepney to St Giles': the Story of Regent's Park College, 1810–1960, page 25
- "Regent's Park College, Oxford" (PDF). Biblicalstudies.org.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- "UK | England | Oxfordshire | Black youngsters 'key to Oxford'". BBC News. 14 November 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- 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)
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