Visiting Regent's Park College, Oxford, England: a small College at the heart of the city
Facing St Giles and close to other Oxford landmarks such as the Ashmolean Museum, Balliol and St John's Colleges and the Martyrs' Memorial, Regent's Park is a small institution, but it looks every inch what it is: a typical Oxford College, in this venerable University.
At one time, however, a College such as Regent's Park would never have existed at Oxford. The College has Baptist affiliations, and with the history of the University as an exclusively Anglican institution for some centuries until the mid-19th century, Regent's Park was actually founded separate from the University. Its origins are in an 18th century Baptist seminary in London, England, which moved first to Stepney, London in 1810 and to Regent's Park, London in 1855 — hence the name. The College was formerly linked with the University of London, but in 1927 it moved to Oxford, and, after years of association with St Catherine's Society (later St. Catherine's College (1) ) and Mansfield College, it became recognized as part of Oxford University in its own right in 1957 (2).
Architecturally the College buildings combine a traditional quadrangle (mainly built 1938-1940) with a St Giles elevation in 18th century Georgian style. The main entrance to the College is on Pusey Street, while a grand entrance — actually at the Principal's Lodge, with restricted use — is on St Giles, featuring prominent pillars and a colourful version of the College's arms. While a 'modern' College in the sense that its affiliation with Oxford University dates from a few decades ago, it is thought by experts that part of the Principal's Lodge dates from the 16th century.
Prominent people associated with the College and its antecedents have included: Major-General Henry Havelock (1795-1857), a leading figure in 19th century British India, of whom there is a statue at Trafalgar Square, London; the Rev. Paul Fiddes (1947-), Baptist theologian and the Honourable Amanda Knatchbull (1982-), descendant of Queen Victoria and a member of the line of succession to the British throne; and many others.
The arms of the College resemble those of London University: not surprising, given the College's history. In addition, the arms feature an open Bible and the Latin words 'Dominus Jesus' (Lord Jesus).
June 24, 2014
(1) St Catherine's is now the largest College of Oxford University.
(2) Along with various other Colleges with non-Anglican religious affiliations, Regent Park College's official status within Oxford University was designated a Permanent Private Hall. In order to understand the history of Regent's Park College and, indeed, of some of the other Colleges not linked with the Church of England, one needs to consider that from the 17th century until the early 19th century the Test and Corporation Acts imposed restrictions upon non-Anglicans in their exercise of civil rights. Roman Catholics and Dissenters (or Nonconformists) were, among other sanctions, prevented from studying at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, until the 19th century the only two Universities in England.
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Also worth seeing
In Oxford itself, included among the numerous visitor sites are: the Bridge of Sighs at Hertford College; the Bodleian Library; Keble College Chapel; the University's Botanic Gardens; Carfax Tower; Christ Church; Magdalen College Tower and Magdalen Deer Park; the Radcliffe Camera; the Sheldonian Theatre; Oxford Castle; the City's numerous spires; and many others.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Distance from Heathrow Airport to Oxford: 77 kilometres. Oxford links by rail to London Paddington Station. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. It is advisable to contact the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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