Oak Hill College was born out of the ashes of the First World War. In the decade following the war, the Church of England faced a serious shortage of evangelical clergy. Many suitable candidates did not have the formal qualifications to enter theological college, or could not afford the fees for the training they needed.
Charles Baring Young (1850-1928), a deeply committed educationalist and philanthropist, had the evangelical vision, as well as the resources, to respond to this need. He had already founded and built Kingham Hill School in Oxfordshire, on an estate he had inherited from his parents. The school made it possible for poor and orphaned children from London to receive an education, learn a trade, and experience the love of God in a warm and welcoming Christian community.
Baring Young donated his other estate, at Oak Hill in Southgate, to found Oak Hill College. The college opened in 1932 with just five faculty members and 10 students. From the beginning, the college prepared students for evangelical ministry not only in the Church of England, but also in other Protestant denominations.
His vision, which was well ahead of its time, opened up ministerial training to students who were not from Oxbridge or public school backgrounds, even though that was the world into which he himself had been born. It was specifically established to help students who did not have the financial resources to receive theological training for ministry.
Following the pattern put in place by Baring Young at Kingham Hill School, the college included a farm, and for many years the students worked on the farm and grew their own food.
The college and the school have continued their work to the present, and both are governed by the Kingham Hill Trust, which Baring Young established in 1912. He insisted that the trustees, the school and the college should be ‘distinctly and definitively Protestant and Evangelical’.
In God’s grace, Baring Young’s inspiring faith and generosity has led to countless numbers of church leaders, missionaries, youth workers and teachers taking the gospel out into Britain and around the world.