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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Manchester New College

Also known as Harris Manchester College/Harris Manchester College Oxford/Manchester Academy/Manchester College


It was founded in Manchester in 1786 as a Nonconformist academy, to provide education to men who could not subscribe to the articles of the Church of England and hence not take degrees at Oxford or Cambridge

By the time it moved to Gordon Square in 1853, it already had (from 1840) the right to present candidates for London degrees

Its Principal, John James Tayler, moved with the College to London in 1853, taking a house at nearby 22 Woburn Square

James Martineau, the foremost Unitarian preacher and thinker in the country, divided his time from 1853 to 1857 between his congregation in Liverpool and his lectureship at Manchester New College in Gordon Square

In 1857 Martineau moved to London permanently, living first at 10 Gordon Street and from 1880 at 35 Gordon Square

In 1889 the College moved from Bloomsbury to Oxford, where it remains

It became a full College of Oxford University in 1996 and claims on its own website to be “the only college in UK Higher Education dedicated solely to the education of men and women mature students” (website of Harris Manchester College Oxford) (opens in new window)

What was reforming about it?

It was a dissenting academy

Where in Bloomsbury

Having previously been in Manchester from 1786–1803 and 1840–1853, and York between 1803–1840, it moved to 14–15 Gordon Square in 1853 and remained until 1889, sharing the premises with University Hall

In 1889 the College moved to Oxford, where it remains

Website of current institution

www.hmc.ox.ac.uk (opens in new window)

Books about it

Valentine David Davis, A History of Manchester College (1932)

Barbara Smith (ed), Truth, Liberty, Religion: Essays Celebrating Two Hundred Years of Manchester College (1986)

Joanna Parker, Manchester College: A Short History 1786–1990 (1990)


Much material relating to the history of the institution is held on site in Oxford; details are available via its library website, www.hmc.ox.ac.uk/collegelibrary.html (opens in new window)

There is a finding aid, also available online: Dennis Porter, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in Harris Manchester College Oxford (opens in new window)

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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