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Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford

Mansfield College

Mansfield College Main Building and JCR with Library on the left.
College name Mansfield College
Motto Deus locutus est nobis in filio ("God hath spoken unto us by [his] son", Hebrews 1:1–2)
Named after George and Elizabeth Mansfield
Established 1838 as Spring Hill College
1886 as Mansfield College
Sister college Homerton College, Cambridge
Principal Dr Diana Walford
JCR president Andrew Campbell
Undergraduates 212
MCR president Graeme Johnstone
Graduates 82

Mansfield College, Oxford is located in Oxford (central)

Location of Mansfield College within central OxfordCoordinates: 51°45′27″N 1°15′10″W / 51.757428°N 1.252876°W / 51.757428; -1.252876
Mansfield College Boat Club
Mansfield Crest.png

Mansfield College is one of the 38 constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Out of the 30 colleges that accept both undergraduates and graduates, Mansfield College is one of the smaller colleges and comprises approximately 210 undergraduates, 80 graduates, 35 visiting students and 50 academic staff.



The grounds of Mansfield College, located on Mansfield Road, are near the University parks and the River Cherwell.

Academic Performance

Mansfield ranked 23rd out of 30 in the 2008 Norrington Table.[1]


Dr Albert Schweitzer, theologian and famous Bach expert was a special lecturer at Mansfield and often performed on the chapel organ. Among the notable academic staff is the Reverend Dr John Muddiman, G. B. Caird Fellow in New Testament Theology, and Michael Freeden, director of the Centre for Political Ideologies and founding editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS, the British Astrophysicist most famous for first discovering radio pulsars, is currently a visiting professor. Honorary fellows of the College include Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the USA, Shami Chakrabarti CBE, Director of the civil rights group Liberty and Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Will Hutton, prominent journalist, economist and head of the Work Foundation, and The Rt. Hon. The Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE (Paddy Ashdown), diplomat and politician.


The college was originally founded in 1838 as Spring Hill College in Birmingham as a college for Nonconformist students. In the late nineteenth century, although students from all religious denominations were legally entitled to attend universities, they were forbidden by statute from taking degrees unless they conformed to the Church of England.

In 1871, the University Test Act abolished all religious tests for non-theological degrees at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham Universities. For the first time, therefore, the educational and social opportunities offered by Britain's premier institutions were open to all Nonconformists. The Prime Minister who enacted these reforms, William Gladstone, encouraged the creation of a Nonconformist college at Oxford.

Spring Hill College moved to Oxford in 1886 and was renamed Mansfield College after its biggest donors, George and Elizabeth Mansfield. It was the first Nonconformist college to open in Oxford.

The magnificent Victorian buildings, designed by Basil Champneys, were completed in 1889. The college was initially all male. The first female student was admitted in 1913.

In 1955, the college was granted the status of a Permanent Private Hall within the University of Oxford.

In 1995, a Royal Charter was awarded giving the institution full college status.

Since the college was first formally integrated into the University structure in 1955, the Nonconformist aspects of the institution have gradually diminished. Until 2007, the United Reformed Church (URC) sponsored a course at Mansfield for training ordinands. These students became fully matriculated members of the University and received degrees. Mansfield no longer trains URC ordinands.

However the Nonconformist history of the college is still apparent in a few of its features. A portrait of Oliver Cromwell hangs in the Senior Common Room and portraits of the 1662 dissenters hang in the library and the corridors of the main college building, together with portraits of Viscount Saye and Sele, John Hampden and Hugh Peters

One place, where the Nonconfomrist history of the institution is still very much apparent, is in the college chapel. It is a non-consecrated space and it contains a unique selection of stained glass windows and statues depicting leading figures from the Nonconformist movements, including Cromwell, Sir Henry Vane and William Penn among many others. In 1940, whilst he was a lecturer at University College, future British Prime Minister Harold Wilson married Mary Baldwin in this chapel, although he was not a member of the college. Chapel services are still conducted in a Nonconformist tradition and the college chaplain is always from a Nonconformist denomination. Nonetheless, over the years, attendance at chapel services has declined and the make-up of the general student body no longer reflects the Nonconformist religious origins of the college.

Because of its Nonconformist roots, the college still has many strong links with American schools. It has a long established tradition of accepting roughly 30 "Junior Year Abroad" students from the USA every year. These students come to study in Oxford for one academic year and have full access to its libraries and designated tutors.

As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £12 million.[2]

Mansfield College Boat Club and a number of other college organizations are popular amongst the students, achieving results at the level of, or competitive with, the larger colleges.

Like many constituent colleges of Oxford University, Mansfield holds a ball once every three years. The next ball will take place on 7th November 2009 and is themed 'Circus of the Macabre'.[3]

Notable former students

Alumni of Mansfield College include:

College grace

Ante cibum Omnipotens Deus, clementissime Pater, omnis boni fons, in donis tuis gaudentes nomen tuum magnificamus, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

"Almighty God, Father of mercies and fount of every good, in the enjoyment of thy gifts we bless thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The college's pre-supper grace was translated into Latin from the Welsh version originally prepared for the University College of North Wales.[5]

Domestic Staff

The retired porter Hugh Flint was the drummer for John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and appeared on their first two albums, the second of which featured Eric Clapton. He later formed the band McGuinness Flint.

Mansfield College Photo Gallery


  1. ^ "07 Norrington Table".  
  2. ^ Oxford College Endowment Incomes, 1973-2006 (updated July 2007)
  3. ^ Mansfield College Ball 2009 (updated May 2009)
  4. ^ "Adam von Trott Memorial Lecture at the Ambassador's Residence, 4 May 2007".  
  5. ^ Reginald Adams, The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge, ISBN 1-870882-06-7

External links



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