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St. Bees Theological College

1816 - 1895


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By the start of the 1800's the Church of England was badly in need of properly trained clergy. The instruction given at the two English universities of Oxford and Cambridge was not focused on producing parish priests and was out of the financial reach of many, yet the rapidly rising population of England demanded an increased supply of clergy who were formally trained and committed to the ministry.

In 1816, the establishment at St. Bees of the first Church of England theological college outside Oxford and Cambridge heralded a change which was to transform clergy training in England.

This article describes the life of St. Bees Theological College and its effect on the church and village.

William Wordsworth wrote...

But all availed not; by a mandate given
Through lawless will the Brotherhood was driven
Forth from their cells; their ancient House laid low
In Reformation's sweeping overthrow.
But now once more the local Heart revives,
The inextinguishable Spirit strives.
Oh may that Power who hushed the stormy seas,
And cleared a way for the first Votaries,
Prosper the new-born College of St. Bees!