ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Mansfield College, Oxford, England: with Nonconformist history and many American links

Updated on September 19, 2012
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
The main building of Mansfield College, Oxford
The main building of Mansfield College, Oxford | Source
Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter | Source
Dr Albert Schweitzer
Dr Albert Schweitzer | Source
Map location of Oxford, in Oxfordshire.
Map location of Oxford, in Oxfordshire. | Source

Architecture by Basil Champeneys

Mansfield College, Oxford, looks just like a 'traditional' College of the University, with its stone buildings by Basil Champeneys (1842-1935)(1), including a prominent gatehouse and Chapel, and its share of prominent alumni and scholars.

But it is different (2), and this is for a number of reasons. The College had already begun to admit women prior to World War One. In addition, its origins in the 19th century relate to its formerly more prominent Nonconformist Christian identity. While for centuries Oxford Colleges were Anglican in nature, Mansfield, first founded in 1838 in Birmingham as Spring Hill College, was relocated to Oxford under its current name in 1886; its basic purpose was to increase study opportunities for members of Nonconformist churches. With the abolition of religious tests for entry to Oxford, this eventually became largely moot, although for many years numerous Mansfield students were prepared for the ministries of Nonconformist churches; however, in recent years the study of theology at the College has declined. The Library contains portrait commemorations of various individuals associated with Nonconformist history. These pictures include those of ministers affected by what was known as the Great Ejection of 1662: at this event, in the same 17th century which saw the Mayflower Pilgrims depart for North America, many ministers were expelled from their Anglican pulpits because of their unwillingness to conform to increasing Episcopalian tendencies enforced by the King. The College's motto, which appears in the centre of the College arms, is, in Latin, DEUS LOCUTUS NOBIS IN FILIO (God has spoken to us in His Son), in reference to Hebrews 1:2.

One of the very special distinctives of the College is that it receives a high proportion of American students. This link with institutions in the United States was originally brought about through Reformed church connections, although this church aspect has diminished in more recent decades. Today, for example, many of the American students at Mansfield College come as part of their Junior Year Abroad program; indeed, Oxford's Rothermere American Institute is situated very close to the College on South Parks Road. Nobel Prizewinning, former US President Jimmy Carter is an Honorary Fellow of the College.

Many distinguished scholars have been associated with the College: Nobel Prizewinning theologian and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) taught at the College (3); Theologian C H Dodd, chairman of the New English Bible translators, was a distinguished alumnus; astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, joint discoverer of pulsars (1943-), has held a visiting professorship at the College; the Congregationalist Silvester Horne (1865-1914), who ministered at what became the American Church in London (the Whitefield Tabernacle), was an alumnus of the College; and many others.

Regarding the name 'Mansfield College' (referring to prominent benefactors), it may be noted also that some Oxford (and Cambridge) Colleges have been known as 'Halls', but having the status of full Colleges within these Universities. Mansfield has always been known as a College, while its status within the University was as what was known as a Permanent Private Hall. So for example, St Edmund Hall is known as a Hall, but is actually a College, while Mansfield College has always been known as a College, but was actually a Hall for many years. (Work that one out!) However, In recent years also, Mansfield College, as a Hall, became a College (if this is not too confusing). It is precisely this kind of complex, fine distinction that for many North Americans makes Oxford (and maybe England, too!) such an endearingly eccentric place.


(1) Other buildings for which Architect Champeneys is known include Newnham College, Cambridge and the John Rylands Library, Manchester.

(2) To be fair, the graduate of every Oxford College is likely to think that his or her College is unique; and to a large extent this is true, also.

(3) Dr Schweitzer had a distinguished knowledge of the works of J S Bach, and would regularly play Bach's works on the College organ; his American secretary, theologian and poet Amos Wilder (1895-1993) was an alumnus of the College.

Also worth seeing

In Oxford itself, visitor attractions are too numerous to summerize even adequately, but a few of these include: Oxford Castle, the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, the Bridge of SIghs at Hertford College, Christ Church, Keble College Chapel, 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 with London Paddington station. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may also be of interest


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)