Wycliffe Hall was founded in response to changes both in the University of Oxford and in the Church of England.
For many centuries all students in the University studied theology, making it the natural place of training for future ministers in the national church. By the middle of the 19th century, however, the University was increasingly secularized so new models for ministerial preparation were needed, with a focus on biblical, theological and pastoral studies. Those with an evangelical commitment to biblical faith and mission, indebted to the insights of the Reformation and the Evangelical Revival, wished to safeguard this heritage and train the leaders of the future.
In its early years Wycliffe Hall was associated with key evangelical leaders such as J. C. Ryle, Frank Chavasse and Griffith Thomas. After steady growth over several generations, student numbers dropped dramatically in the 1960s. This was seen as a result of Wycliffe’s embracing a more liberal theological position during that decade. The situation was reversed with the appointment of a new Principal in 1970, from which time Wycliffe has gone from strength to strength, not least through upholding a clear commitment to biblical orthodoxy.