The story of Regent’s Park College began with the creation of the London Baptist Education Society in 1752, a venture which developed into the Stepney Academy in East London in 1810. In 1856, it moved six or seven miles across London to the then rural Regent’s Park, and adopted its current name.
In the nineteenth century, the College had a ambitious mission: until the 1870s students who were not members of Church of England could not study in Britain’s ancient universities, but Regent’s Park sought to equip such people – ‘Dissenters’ – for professional careers and to broaden their horizons through an education in the Arts and Law. During this time, the College educated a number of famous individuals, such as the classical scholar W. H. D. Rouse and the first-class cricketer and Liberal politician, Sir Joseph Francis Leese. The College also prepared candidates for the ordained ministry in Baptist churches in Britain and overseas.
Some of those involved in the College’s life at this stage were instrumental in the foundation of University College London, and Regent’s Park College was itself affiliated to the newly-formed University of London as early as 1841. In 1927, after concluding that the College could best pursue its mission away from London, it was moved by the Principal, Henry Wheeler Robinson (1872-1945), to its third, current, and final site in Oxford. In 1957, it became a ‘Permanent Private Hall’ (PPH) of the University of Oxford.
Located in the heart of the City and University, Regent’s Park College is known for its friendly atmosphere and the outstanding achievements of its undergraduates and postgraduates, both within and beyond academia. Regent’s encourages students to achieve their potential both academically and socially and provides them with the chance to make the most of their time at Oxford. All men and women admitted to the College to read for degrees at Oxford are matriculated as members of the University and have full access to its rich resources. The Principal, Tutorial Fellows and Lecturers are teaching members of the University Faculties. The College offers places to read for undergraduate degrees in a wide range of arts subjects, with a specialization Humanities and Social Sciences, and particularly in Theology, Philosophy and Theology, and English. Regent’s also continues to prepare men and women for ordained Baptist ministry and is in membership with the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
The College also has two important research centres: The Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture explores the relationship of theology and faith to the arts, the law and social issues and the Oxford Centre for Baptist History and Heritage focuses on research and study in Baptist and non-conformist history. Regent’s is home to the internationally important and unique Angus Library and Archive which comprises over 70,000 printed books, pamphlets, journals and other artefacts. The collection relates to the life and history of Baptists and nonconformists in Britain and the wider world from the late fifteenth century to the present day. Alongside this unique collection, Regent’s also houses the David Nicholls Memorial Collection. Based on the private collection of Britain’s foremost expert on the politics and history of Haiti, it has works which deal specifically with Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean territories.