In 1839, on the second Monday following Easter, the Theological College opened for the ‘instruction of candidates for holy orders in Theology and in the duties of Christian ministry’. The Theological College was then located in ‘Cawley Priory’, South Pallant.
The founder of the college was Archdeacon Manning (1808-1892) under the instruction of Bishop Otter. Manning had studied at Balliol College, Oxford, in the late 1820s.
In 1833 he was appointed curate of Lavington. Soon after, the rector, John Sargent, died and Manning succeeded him. He later married Sargent’s daughter, Caroline, but sadly she died young of consumption in 1837.
Manning did not remarry. He was also deputy to the aged Archdeacon and succeeded him as archdeacon in 1840. He was passionate about promoting education in sound church teachings although how this was delivered caused him to have disagreements with Bishop Otter.
By 1850, Manning had converted to Catholicism and in 1865 he was appointed Archbishop of Westminster. Manning had received £50 from future Prime Minister William Gladstone, an acquaintance from his time at Balliol College, towards the funding of the college.
The first Principal of the college was the Rev Charles Marriott (1811-1858) who had been appointed at Easter. He was born at Church Lawford rectory, near Rugby, where his father was parish rector.
He entered Exeter College, Oxford, in March 1829, and later won a scholarship to Balliol. He took a First in Classics and a Second in Mathematics.
When Mr Marriott took up his duties in 1839 he was already in delicate health, and suffered a breakdown three years before his death aged 47. His successor was the Rev Henry Browne.
However, he resigned in November, 1845. The college closed temporarily for six months.
Between 1846 – 1886 there were a string of principals. However, between 1886-1898 the Rev Josiah Sanders Teulon was principal. He had been connected with the college for over 25 years.
In 1889, he presided over the college’s jubilee but his years in charge saw a gradual decline in student numbers. He resigned in 1899, which led to financial problems for the college as he retained his salary while serving as a canon.
There were discussions about closing the college at this time but thanks to a convincing case being made by the vice-principal, the college continued.
In 1903, a hostel was purchased in West Street for £1,000. These premises were predominantly paid for by the principal, in memory of his wife. The premises were then refitted and refurbished and became the college headquarters.
By 1918, it was felt the premises in West Street were no longer adequate and it was sold in 1919 with the proceeds going towards the purchase of new headquarters in Westgate for £3,500.
The premises in Westgate offered a large building with pleasant gardens, and included St Bartholomew’s Church which was used by the college for a while. The college was formally rededicated by Bishop Ridgeway on May 1, 1919.
An army hut, previously used as a church of wounded soldiers in Brighton, was re-erected by the new headquarters to serve as a chapel.
By the early 1920s, the number of students had increased to 35 and the college acquired a three-year lease of a house opposite the college for use as a hostel.
During the Second World War, the college temporarily relocated to Cambridge, as many properties in Chichester were required by military authorities. At the end of war, all but one (Marriot House) were sold. The college re-opened in Marriot House in October, 1946. Students at the college were able to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious studies, a Bachelor of Theology degree and various certificates and training courses. They could also take part in extra-curricular activities such as fundraising for charities.
The college was closed in 1994 with the transfer of the Theological library going to the University of Chichester. In 1996, the Chichester Theological Trust was set up after the closure of the college, which supports activities that make a meaningful contribution to the life of the Church of England.
By Pat Saunders, volunteer and Amanda Rogan, learning officer at the Novium Museum