Wycliffe Hall, Oxford
Wycliffe Hall is a Church of England theological college and a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The college is named after John Wycliffe, who was master of Balliol College, Oxford in the 14th century.
Blazon: Gules, an open book proper the pages inscribed with the Latin words "Via Veritas Vita" in letters sable on a chief azure three crosses crosslet argent and in base an estoile or.
|Location||54 Banbury Road, Oxford|
|Motto||Via, Veritas, Vita|
"The Way, the Truth, the Life" (John 14:6)
|Named for||John Wycliffe|
|Sister college||Ridley Hall, Cambridge|
Founded in 1877, Wycliffe Hall provides theological training to women and men for ordained and lay ministries in the Church of England as well as other Anglican and non-Anglican churches. There are also a number of independent and undergraduate students studying theology. The hall is rooted in and has a history of Evangelical Anglicanism. The hall currently includes strong influences of Charismatic, Conservative and Open Evangelical traditions.
- 1 History
- 2 Buildings
- 3 Ministerial formation
- 4 Academic programmes
- 5 Academic achievements
- 6 Student life
- 7 List of principals
- 8 Notable alumni
- 9 References
- 10 External links
For many centuries membership of the University of Oxford required subscription to the 39 Articles (part of the English Reformation heritage of the Church of England). The university was officially secularised by the Oxford University Act 1854 and the Universities Tests Act 1871, when it was opened respectively to students and lecturers of all religious creeds or none. Evangelical public meetings were held in 1876, partly in response to this development, where concerns were raised about how "the majority of clergy are professionally ignorant". A committee, including Charles Perry (bishop) and Sydney Gedge MP, was formed to raise funds for two new theological colleges, one at Cambridge and one at Oxford, which would provide supplementary training preparatory to ordination and do so "upon a sound Evangelical and Protestant basis".
Funds were gathered rapidly and a founding council was formed for the Oxford college, including J. C. Ryle, Robert Payne Smith, Edward Garbett, and Edmund Knox (bishop of Manchester). The vision was to maintain the teaching of biblical and evangelical theology at Oxford and to promote "doctrinal truth and vital godliness", training ordinands to be "mighty in scripture...prepared to maintain the pure doctrines of the Reformed Church of England in all their simplicity and fullness". The new hall was dedicated to John Wycliffe, who was master of Balliol College, Oxford in the 1380s, and is remembered as the 'morning star' of the Reformation.
Wycliffe is one of more than 20 Anglican theological colleges established in England during the late 19th century. Its "sister college" is Ridley Hall, Cambridge, which opened in 1881. Two evangelical organisations working among Oxford students were founded in the late nineteenth century; the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union in 1879 and the Oxford Pastorate in 1893. Wycliffe had close links with both from their inception. Indeed, of Wycliffe's first 100 students, 83 were Oxford graduates; a link that was bolstered by the second principal, Chavasse, who was incumbent of St Peter-le-Bailey, Oxford prior to leading the hall. The hall opened to non-graduates in 1890.
William Henry Griffith Thomas was one of Wycliffe Hall’s best known principals (serving 1905–1910) and remains a noted theologian. He undertook much of the lecturing in college himself during his tenure and is remembered today by a bronze bust in the dining room.
During the First World War, Wycliffe Hall housed refugees from Serbia and trainees from the Royal Flying Corps who built a practice aeroplane in the dining hall. At the jubilee of the hall in 1927, the principal led students to Jerusalem for their summer vacation term. Two years later, in 1929 Wycliffe Hall staff and students on a follow-up pilgrimage to Jerusalem were commissioned as peacekeepers during riots and one student was shot through the shoulder. Two further years later, the principal who led these expeditions (F.G. Brown) was elected Protestant Bishop in Jerusalem. Photos from these 1920s expeditions decorate the walls of No.4 Norham Gardens today.
Religious liberalism influenced Wycliffe Hall in the 1950s and 60s. F.J. Taylor (principal 1956–1962) was editor of the liberal-catholic Parish and People magazine, whilst David Anderson (principal 1962–1969) was a contributor to the Modern Churchmens' Union. The evangelical churches lost confidence in the Hall and student numbers fell dramatically. An official 1965 report on the college warned that 'dialogue with the present age...must be founded on and spring from evangelical conviction'. Eventually, the Hall Council asked for Anderson's resignation in 1969 and instead sought clearer evangelical leadership, even inviting John Stott to take up the post. Stott declined, but other well known evangelicals were found to get the hall back onto a firmer footing, including Peter Southwell, David Holloway, Oliver O'Donovan, and Roger Beckwith.
The centenary of the hall was celebrated in 1977 with a Service of Thanksgiving at Christ Church, Oxford, followed by tea in a marquee on the Wycliffe lawn. In 1996 Wycliffe Hall became a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford, under the leadership of Alister McGrath.
Two significant new programmes were launched in the early years of the new century; SCIO (Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford) in 2002; and OCCA (the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) in 2005. SCIO is run in partnership with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) whilst OCCA is operated by the Zacharias Trust. Both programmes brought dozens of students to the hall each year, which SCIO continues to do, though the Hall's relationship with OCCA was discontinued in 2019.
Wycliffe became a focus of media attention in 2007 when a significant number of the academic staff left, including the vice-principal and head of pastoral theology. Three former principals wrote to the chair of the college council to protest about the way staff complaints of being bullied were ignored. The crisis continued as a member of the council also resigned, having no confidence in the Chair of Council, Bishop James Jones. The issues became public as members of the academic faculty lodged grievances against the principal, Richard Turnbull, for bullying. After monitoring by the university, senior academics at Oxford complained that the curriculum was narrow and offered students insufficient intellectual development. That year the bishop and the college were taken to an employment tribunal and admitted breaking the law. In 2009 the college was inspected by the Bishops' Inspection: it was commended in some departments but the inspectors expressed "no confidence" in its practical and pastoral theology. Shortly after, the bishop, James Jones, resigned as chair.
In May 2012, under a new chair, the Bishop of Chester, the principal was given leave of absence from the college and he stepped down the following month. Late in 2012 the college began advertising for a new principal who could offer "wide and generous understanding of the major trends in contemporary Anglican evangelicalism, together with high level pastoral skills". In December 2012 it was announced that Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, had become chair of the college's council. The process of appointment of a new principal stalled in January 2013: the Hall Council considered that five candidates were "of real quality" but that none of them offered "the desired balance of skills and attributes" required. In April 2013 the college announced that Michael Lloyd, Chaplain of Queen's College, Oxford, had been appointed as principal, and he took up the position in the middle of the year and has been creatively expanding the college and looking to increase the numbers of female ordinands. 
The small cohort of first degree undergraduates which Wycliffe accepted from 1997 onwards were phased out in the mid-2010s and, aside from SCIO, the hall now only takes mature students (over 21s). Language schools regularly hire the Hall for use during the long summer vacation. In summer 2018 Wycliffe also hosted an executive education course, the Entrepreneurial Leaders Institute, in collaboration with the Entrepreneurial Leaders Organisation.
Wycliffe is located in the Victorian suburb of North Oxford. A site in the centre of Oxford was sought at the hall's foundation, and again in the 1890s, but neither attempt succeeded. The original buildings on the Wycliffe Hall site were designed in the 1860s as family houses, until converted to their present use later in the nineteenth century.
The hall - No.54 Banbury Road was designed by John Gibbs in 1866 and built for Tom Arnold the younger, literary scholar and son of Tom Arnold the elder, head of Rugby School. The house, named "Laleham" (after the Arnolds' former residence in Middlesex), was larger than normal (with 14 bedrooms), even in a neighbourhood known for substantial houses. This size was to accommodate Arnold's anticipated in-house tutees. Within a decade, Arnold decided to sell No.54 as the tutorial business was abandoned. A committee of evangelical churchmen bought the property in 1877 and promptly renamed it Wycliffe Hall. In the early years, the northerly main room was the library-cum-lecture room (site of the present snooker table), while the southerly one was the dining room. Additions were soon made to the house by William Wilkinson and Harry Wilkinson Moore in 1882–1883. The new North Wing contained a dozen additional student rooms (with their own staircase), while South Wing, housed the hall's first (and only) purpose-built library as well as a new front entrance, thus allowing the dining room to be extended into the hall of No.54. A new purpose-built dining hall was built on the road-side (i.e. west) of No.54 Banbury Road in 1913, blocking off both of the original main entrances to the hall (the 1866 and 1883 doors), but providing a new front door featuring the hall and university shields in the stonework doorframe (still visible today). South Wing was converted for use as an additional common room (the LCR) in 1974, while the dining hall was converted for use as a lecture theatre in 1980.
Old Lodge - No.52 Banbury Road lies immediately south of No.54, at the junction with Norham Gardens, and was designed by Frederick Codd in 1868. It initially housed the Holy Rood Convent (an Anglo-Catholic nunnery of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity, which was involved in printing the works of John Henry Newman). The hall acquired No.52 when the sisters sold up in 1883. This second villa initially functioned as the principal's residence, but in 1930 was converted to contain both student and staff common rooms on the ground floor - hence 'Old' Lodge. In 1974 the hall's library was moved from South Wing into Old Lodge, (where it remains to this day).
A chapel and bellcote was added between No.54 and No.52 in 1896, designed by architect George Wallace. The chapel was opened by the Bishop of Oxford and has a stained-glass window depicting John Wycliffe. A vestry was added to the south side of the chapel in the 1930s, which is now being used as a prayer room. A 1961 reordering of the east end saw the introduction of candlesticks and altar frontals, which were removed in a later reordering. The 1960s metal reredos cross is now hung in the corridor between the hall and Old Lodge.
During the twentieth century, a number of houses in Norham Gardens were also acquired by the hall, including No.2 in 1930 (which date also saw the acquisition of the freeholds from St John's College). The gardens of No.2 and No.4 remained separately delineated by their original brick party walls for some decades (much as the gardens of Kellogg College remain divided as at 2018) but these grounds were amalgamated with the garden of 54 Banbury Road to form a large green space on the site in the late 1960s. No.2 Norham Gardens was used as a replacement lodging for the hall's principal through much of the century, but saw use by TocH during the Second World War.
Various schemes were considered in the late 1960s and early 1970s for merging Wycliffe with other institutions, including Mansfield College, Oxford, St Stephen's House, Oxford, and Ripon Hall. Options under serious consideration by the Hall Council included the demolition of one or more of the four original villas; operating a split-site college with St Stephen's; and selling the original buildings to re-build on part of Mansfield's site or elsewhere in or out of the city. None of these schemes came to pass.
The Talbot Rice Dining Hall was built to the east of No.54 Banbury Road and opened in October 1980, allowing the 1913 dining hall to become a lecture theatre. At the same time St Stephen's House moved to Iffley Road and the Hall Council considered buying No.17–19 Norham Gardens, but ultimately was out-bid by St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Later in the same decade No.2a Norham Gardens was built as a new lodging for the principal (now third iteration of the principal's lodging on site). The last major building work on the main site was the western extension of No.2 Norham Gardens in the mid-1990s to provide additional accommodation and offices. No.8 Norham Gardens was acquired in the early 2000s.
Wycliffe's original purpose was to train men for ordained ministry in both the home and colonial service of the Church of England. Ordination training remains central to the college's mission, although non-ordained ministries are also catered for, especially those of academic theology and apologetics.
Morning prayer was traditionally held in the hall chapel on weekdays at 7:30am (with private devotions from 7am), but in recent years, at the later time of 8:20am. Eucharist is administered in chapel weekly each Tuesday afternoon of term at 4:30pm. Whilst attendance at the morning and eucharistic services is compulsory for full time ordinands and optional for independent students, this is not always observed.
All Wycliffe students are allocated to a fellowship group, each group being student-led but supervised by a college tutor. Tutors meet with members of their fellowship Groups termly to supervise formation. Fellowship Groups meet on Tuesdays immediately before Community Notices at 9:30am. Fellowship groups take turns to run a week of chapel services, arranging aspects such as leading, preaching, prayers and Bible-reading from among their own members. Preaching training is also facilitated by a taught class and guest sermons in local churches.
For most of the hall's history, G.T. (Greek testament) was a daily ritual for all students at 9am after breakfast. Training in the biblical languages remains important at Wycliffe today, with all ministerial students strongly encouraged to take either or both Greek and Hebrew. Beginner, intermediate and advanced classes run throughout the year both at Wycliffe and in the university's language school.
Historically, Wycliffe students were assigned a 'pastoral job' on Sundays - whether preaching, pastoral visiting, or taking a Sunday school class. Today, ministry placements emphasise observation and theological reflection as well as participation. Common hosts of Wycliffe students for this purpose include St Aldate's Church, St Ebbe's, Oxford, St Andrew's Church, Oxford, Pusey House, Christ Church, Oxford, and many other college chapels. The long summer placement, before students' final year, affords the opportunity to go further afield from the city.
Concentrated practical ministerial training is delivered via a system of 'Integrated Study Weeks' (ISWs) on topics such as death, evangelism, ethics, and biblical hermeneutics. ISWs occur in 0th and 9th weeks, at either end of the standard Oxford term. Wycliffe terms are thus usually ten weeks long, rather than the more common Oxford eight. Ministerial students are sent on at least two college missions during their studies, with the choice of settings including schools, universities, urban and rural parishes, as well as social projects of various kinds.
Wycliffe Hall students are enrolled on a wide range of Oxford academic programmes, including the Certificate in Theological Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Theology, Master of Theology, Master of Philosophy in Theology, and doctoral programmes. In addition, there are a number of programmes accredited by Durham University. Wycliffe's Durham Common Awards programmes are distinctive among Anglican colleges in placing a strong emphasis on biblical studies modules.
Most teaching on the CTS, BTh, and Durham courses occurs in Wycliffe itself, in the Lower Common Room (the former library) and in the Lecture Theatre (the old dining hall). BA students take lectures off site with other undergraduates of the Faculty of Theology, although many of their tutorials occur at Wycliffe with the hall's own tutors.
In 2012, the college topped the University of Oxford’s Norrington Table, winning each of the theology prizes and with all five BA students achieving a first class degree. This success was repeated in 2017, when the Hall again topped the Norrington Table.
The modern student body is diverse, including about 60 Church of England Ordinands and about 60 independent students (roughly a quarter in both categories being part-time or mixed-mode), plus up to 50 visiting students (mostly on the SCIO programme). Many nationalities are represented, the largest single body of overseas students being from the United States. The 'official' Bible translation used at Wycliffe (both academically and in chapel worship) is the NRSV, but students are free to use whichever translation they find most suitable.
All Wycliffe Hall students are members of the Common Room (a membership body not to be confused with the 'upper' and 'lower' common rooms, which are physical spaces in Wycliffe). A committee of 12 oversees Common Room activities, such as formal dinner drinks, a ball, prayer meetings, games nights, and representations to hall management. Various informal student groups exist, including occasional reading groups focusing on major theological texts. Wycliffe students also take a full part in activities across the wider university, including sports. A partnership with Queen's College, Oxford sees Wycliffe students play some college sports on the Queen's teams. The Oxford University Parks are adjacent to Wycliffe and afford easy access to lawn tennis, cricket, and croquet facilities. The Common Room used to produce its own magazine, 'The Lollard', but the only regular internal publication now is the weekly 'Update', which has been a feature of hall life since at least the mid-1990s.
Spouses of Wycliffe students are welcome to join 'Contact', which meets mid-week for prayer, Bible study and fellowship. The group met in the LCR until 2015, when its meetings moved to No.4 Norham Gardens. Contact often hosts visiting speakers, many of whom are clergy spouses.
About half of Wycliffe students live on-site, either in 54 Banbury Road, or on Norham Gardens. Most other students live locally and travel in to college by foot, bike or car. A few students, particularly those on the 'mixed mode' programmes, live further away from Oxford and often come in on just one or two days per week (usually Mondays and Tuesdays). Students may take breakfast, lunch and dinner at Wycliffe's dining hall every day of the week during term time. There are three or four formal dinners per term. All ministerial students and all those living on-site are expected to take on at least one 'college job'.
List of principalsEdit
- Robert Baker Girdlestone, 1877–1889 (Victorian Biblical scholar)
- Francis James Chavasse, 1889–1900 (subsequently second Bishop of Liverpool 1900–1923)
- Henry "Harry" George Grey, 1900–1905
- William Griffith Thomas, 1905–1910 (Wycliffe's computer room is named after him)
- Henry "Harry" George Grey, 1910–1918
- Henry "Harry" Beaujon Gooding, 1919–1925 (subsequently returned to Barbados as Headmaster of The Lodge School 1932–1941)
- Francis Graham Brown, 1925–1932 (subsequently sixth Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem 1932–1942)
- John Taylor, 1932 to 1942 (subsequently Bishop of Sodor and Man 1942–1954)
- Julian Thornton-Duesbery, 1943 to 1955 (previously and subsequently Master of St Peter's College, Oxford 1940–1968)
- Francis John Taylor, 1956–1962 (subsequently third Bishop of Sheffield 1962–1971)
- David Anderson, 1962–1970 (resigned due to falling student numbers)
- James (Jim) Peter Hickinbotham, 1970–1978 (retired)
- Geoffrey Shaw, 1978–1988 (retired)
- R. T. France, 1989–1995 (subsequently Rector of Wentnor)
- Alister McGrath, 1995–2005 (subsequently Director, Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion)
- Richard Turnbull, 2005–2012 (subsequently Director, Centre for Enterprise Markets and Ethics)
- Michael Lloyd, 2013 to present
A gallery of former principals decorates the staircase of South Wing.
- William Henry Temple Gairdner (1896–97) – missionary in Cairo and amongst Muslims, apologist
- Hewlett Johnson (1900–1901) - The "Red Dean" of Canterbury
- Lamina Sankoh (1921–1924)
- Leonard Wilson (1922–1923) - 4th Bishop of Birmingham
- Verrier Elwin (1925–1926) - President of the OICCU who later converted to Hinduism
- Joseph Fison (1929–1930) - 74th Bishop of Salisbury
- Wilbert Awdry (1932–1933) – Creator of The Railway Series of children's books
- Donald Coggan (1934) – 101st Archbishop of Canterbury
- John Vernon Taylor (1937–1938) - 94th Bishop of Winchester
- Gordon Strutt (1942–1943) - 3rd Bishop of Stockport
- William Chadwick – 4th Bishop of Barking
- Howard Cruse – 5th Bishop of Knaresborough
- Stuart Blanch (1946–1948) - 5th Bishop of Liverpool
- Alec Motyer (1947) - Leading Old Testament scholar & 1st Principal of Trinity College, Bristol
- J. I. Packer (1949–1952) – Author (inc. General Editor of the English Standard Version) and theologian
- Henry Moore (1950–1952) - 2nd Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf
- Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye (1951–1953) - Bishop of Lagos and 2nd Primate of All Nigeria
- David Young (1958–1959) - 11th Bishop of Ripon
- Ian Harland (1958–1960) - 65th Bishop of Carlisle
- Oliver O'Donovan (1968–1972) - Leading ethicist & Regius Professorship of Moral and Pastoral Theology emeritus
- Bill Sykes – Chaplain of University College, Oxford and author
- N.T. Wright (1973–1975) - Writer and theologian, 94th Bishop of Durham
- James Harold Bell (1974–1975) - 10th Bishop of Knaresborough
- Nick McKinnel (1977–1980) - 10th Bishop of Plymouth
- June Osborne (1978–1980) - 72nd Bishop of Llandaff
- Alan Gregory Clayton Smith (1979–1981) - 10th Bishop of St Alban's
- James Stuart Jones (1981–1982) – 7th Bishop of Liverpool
- Peter Hill (1981–1983) - 11th Bishop of Barking
- David Urquhart (1982–1984) - 9th Bishop of Birmingham
- Carl N. Cooper (1982–1985) - 127th Bishop of St David's
- Nicky Gumbel (1983–1986) – Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton and developer of the Alpha Course
- Graham Tomlin (1983–1986) - 12th Bishop of Kensington and President of St Mellitus College
- Anne Dyer (1984–1987) - 12th Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney and former Warden of Cranmer Hall, Durham
- Anthony Burton (1985–1987) - 11th Bishop of Saskatchewan
- Philip Mounstephen (1985–1988) - 16th Bishop of Truro
- Jonathan Goodall (1986–1989) - 5th Bishop of Ebbsfleet
- David Grant Williams (1986–1989) - 6th Bishop of Basingstoke
- Toby Howarth (1987–1990) - 11th Bishop of Bradford
- Vaughan Roberts (1989–1991) – Rector of St Ebbe's Church, Oxford and President of the Proclamation Trust
- Ray R. Sutton - Bishop in the Reformed Episcopal Church
- Michael Horton (early 1990s) - Theologian, J.Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary
- Paul Gavin Williams (1990–1992) - 13th Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
- Rod Thomas (1991–1993) - 9th Bishop of Maidstone
- Rico Tice (1991–1994) – Evangelist, co-writer of the Christianity Explored course
- Rachel Treweek (1991–1994) – 41st Bishop of Gloucester
- Ric Thorpe (1993–1996) - 2nd Bishop of Islington
- Jonathan Aitken – Politician, author and broadcaster
- Nicholas Groves. Theological Colleges: their hoods and histories. The Burgon Society. p. 35. ISBN 0954411013.
- "The Guardian, 27 June 1877". p. 894.
- Theological Halls at Oxford and Cambridge. Bodleian Library. p. 536.
- "Church Society - Issues - History - Griffith Thomas - Portman/Wycliffe Hall". churchsociety.org. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
- Andrew Atherstone, Rescued from the Brink: The Collapse and Resurgence of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford in Studies in Church History Volume 44, 2008, p.355–365
- Central Advisory Committee on Training for the Ministry Inspection Report 1965
- Stephen Bates, Theological College's Head is undermining it, says Predecessors, The Guardian, 14 June 2007
- Crisis continues at Wycliffe Hall as Council member resigns. The controversy over Oxford theological college Wycliffe Hall has taken another dramatic turn after a council member resigned this week, saying she had serious concerns over the response of the hall to allegations of bullying and intimidation. Daniel Blake, 5 October 2007, Christian Today
- Eeva John., Geoff Maughan and David letters, Wenham, #Church of England Newspaper# 28 September 2007
- Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent (11 August 2007). ""gives warning to theological college", ''The Guardian'', 11 August 2007". Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- Dave Walker, www.churchtimes.co.uk/blog_post.asp?id
- Pat Ashworth, Church Times, 20 March 2009.
- "Appointment of Chair of Council". Wycliffe Hall. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Statement from the Hall council on the appointment of the Principal of Wycliffe Hall". Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Appoints New Principal". Wycliffe Hall. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Female Ordinand Mentoring". Wycliffe Hall. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
- Hinchcliffe, Tanis (1992). North Oxford. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. pp. 143–144, 151–153, 217. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 319. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
- "Achieves Top Marks". Wycliffe Hall. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "The Rev Canon J. P. Thornton-Duesbery". The Times (62106). 8 April 1985. p. 12.
- Andrew Atherstone, Rescued from the Brink: The Collapse and Resurgence of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford in Studies in Church History Volume 44, 2008, p.366
- Whyte, Duncan (23 March 2011). "Obituary: Canon Geoffrey Norman Shaw". Church Times. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- "Obituary: Canon Dick France". Daily Telegraph. 17 April 2012.
- "Canon Dick France". 17 April 2012 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- "Professor Alister McGrath - Faculty of Theology and Religion". www.theology.ox.ac.uk.
- "Our Team".