Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford
Wycliffe Hall
College name Wycliffe Hall
Motto Via, Veritas, Vita
"The Way, the Truth, the Life" (John 14:6)
Named after John Wycliffe
Established 1877
Sister college Ridley Hall, Cambridge
Principal Michael Lloyd
Undergraduates ~150
Location 54 Banbury Road, Oxford

Location of Wycliffe Hall within central OxfordCoordinates: 51°45′47″N 1°15′36″W / 51.76302°N 1.260095°W / 51.76302; -1.260095

College website
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.

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, master of Balliol College, Oxford in the 14th century.

Founded in 1877, Wycliffe Hall provides theological training for candidates for ordained ministry in the Church of England as well as other Anglican and non-Anglican churches. The college also prepares people for lay ministry. There are also a number of independent and undergraduate students studying theology. It is rooted in the evangelical tradition of the Church of England.


Wycliffe Hall was founded in 1877 to train Christian workers as pastors and missionaries, especially as clergy within the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion. It 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. It was founded following evangelical public meetings in 1876 where the concerns were raised about how "the majority of clergy are professionally ignorant".[1]

The college is named after John Wycliffe, master of Balliol College, Oxford, in the 14th century. He was a philosopher and theologian who argued for biblical theology. One of the founders of Wycliffe was J. C. Ryle, a Bishop of Liverpool and theologian.

For many centuries the University of Oxford was explicitly Christian and Anglican. It was officially secularised by the Oxford University Act 1854 and the Universities Tests Act 1871, when it was opened to students and lecturers of all religious faiths or none. Wycliffe Hall’s vision was to maintain the teaching of biblical and evangelical theology at Oxford. Its first pioneers aimed to promote "doctrinal truth and vital godliness". Its Victorian trust deed upholds the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, which is the part of the English Reformation heritage of the Church of England, although it now welcomes students from all Christian denominations. Since the 19th century the college has had close links with the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union and the Oxford Pastorate, two evangelical organisations working with Oxford students.

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.

In 1929 Wycliffe Hall staff and students on pilgrimage to Jerusalem were commissioned as peacekeepers during riots in Palestine. One student was shot through the shoulder.

William Henry Griffith Thomas, one of Wycliffe Hall’s best known principals and a noted theologian, is remembered by a bronze bust in the dining room.

In 1996 Wycliffe Hall became a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford, under the leadership of Alister McGrath. In 2005 it launched the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in partnership with the Zacharias Trust.

Recent history

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.[2] The crisis continued as a member of the council also resigned, having no confidence in the Chair of Council, Bishop James Jones.[3] The issues became public as members of the academic faculty lodged grievances against the principal, Richard Turnbull, for bullying.[4] After monitoring by the university, senior academics at Oxford complained that the curriculum was narrow and offered students insufficient intellectual development.[5] 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.[6][7] 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 the Rt Revd Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, had become chair of the college's council.[8] 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.[9]

In April 2013 the college announced that the Revd Michael Lloyd, Chaplain of Queen's College, Oxford, had been appointed as principal,[10] and he took up the position in the middle of the year.


Wycliffe Hall’s buildings were first designed in the 1860s as family houses, until converted to their present use. Tom Arnold, literary scholar and brother of Matthew Arnold, once lived there.

The chapel was opened by the Bishop of Oxford in 1896 and has a stained-glass window representing John Wycliffe.

The building at 52 Banbury Road, at the junction with Norham Gardens, was designed by Frederick Codd in 1868.[11][12] It initially housed the Holy Rood Convent. The building at 54 Banbury Road was designed by John Gibbs in 1866, with additions by William Wilkinson and Harry Wilkinson Moore in 1882–3. Wycliffe Hall was established in 1877 and started at No. 54, adding No. 52 in 1883. A chapel was added between the houses in 1896, designed by architect George Wallace.[12]

Academic achievements

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.[13]

Associated people





  1. Nicholas Groves. Theological Colleges: their hoods and histories. The Burgon Society. p. 35. ISBN 0954411013.
  2. Stephen Bates, Theological College's Head is undermining it, says Predecessors, The Guardian, 14 June 2007
  3. 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
  4. Eeva John., Geoff Maughan and David letters, Wenham, #Church of England Newspaper# 28 September 2007
  5. Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent (11 August 2007). ""gives warning to theological college", ''The Guardian'', 11 August 2007". Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  6. Dave Walker, www.churchtimes.co.uk/blog_post.asp?id
  7. Pat Ashworth, Church Times, 20 March 2009.
  8. "Appointment of Chair of Council". Wycliffe Hall. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  9. https://web.archive.org/web/20130323002549/http://www.wycliffehall.org.uk/press-releases/hall-council-statement-appointment-of-principal. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. "Appoints New Principal". Wycliffe Hall. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  11. Hinchcliffe, Tanis (1992). North Oxford. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. pp. 143–144, 151–153, 217. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
  12. 1 2 Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 319. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
  13. "Achieves Top Marks". Wycliffe Hall. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  14. "The Rev Canon J. P. Thornton-Duesbery". The Times (62106). 8 April 1985. p. 12.
  15. Whyte, Duncan (23 March 2011). "Obituary: Canon Geoffrey Norman Shaw". Church Times. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  16. "Obituary: Canon Dick France". Daily Telegraph. 17 April 2012.
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