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A Brief History

St Stephen’s House was founded in 1876 by members of the Tractarian movement and has stood, ever since, in the catholic tradition of the Church of England.

The House’s principal founder was Edward King, then Regius Professor of Pastoral Theology in the University of Oxford, and later Bishop of Lincoln. King has been acclaimed as one of the outstandingly holy men of his age, and exercised considerable influence on the early life of the House. Associated with King were William Bright, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History and a great scholar; Edward Talbot, Warden of Keble College and subsequently Bishop of Winchester; Edwin Palmer, Professor of Latin and Archdeacon of Oxford; Edward Woolcoombe, a Fellow of Balliol with a great interest in and support for the missionary movement; and John Wordsworth, Chaplain of Brasenose College. Finally among the founding band was Henry Scott Holland, then senior fellow at Christ Church and one of the leading figures in the development of the Christian social teaching of the time.

For the House’s first years, it was situated near the centre of Oxford, where the New Bodleian Library now stands. From 1919, the House had a site in Norham Gardens, near to the University Parks. In 1980 it moved to the current site, formerly the mother-house of the Society of St John the Evangelist (also known as the Cowley Fathers), founded by Richard Meux Benson.

The House motto is Video caelos apertos ("I see the heavens opened"), St Stephen's words from Acts 7:56

Page last updated: 12/08/2010, at 09:12

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