Skip to Content UTAS Home | Contacts
University of Tasmania Home Page Accommodation Services

Christ College

Christ College History

Historic photos and sketches >>

The Past

1846 The College was opened on 1 October 1846 with the hope that it would develop along the lines of an Oxbridge college and provide the basis for university education in Tasmania. It was also intended to prepare men for the priesthood. The Hutchins School and Launceston Grammar were founded at the same time to act as feeder schools to the College.

The College's first ten years (1846-1856) were at Bishopsbourne, and there is still a sign there pointing to "The College". However, it never really developed as its founders hoped, and a depression in the colony, the remote site, and financial problems led to its closure in 1856. The cedar mantelpiece in the Computer Room is the only reminder of the now demolished Bishopsbourne building.

1879 The College re-opened in Hobart in 1879 in Macquarie Street, moving to the Hobart High School premises on the Domain on a seven year lease in 1885. There was an effort during the Macquarie Street/High School period to provide some form of higher education, but for most of the time the College was just another Hobart school, competing for students against schools like Hutchins and the Friends' School. It did, however, offer some evening classes, which may have been for more advanced students.

1892 The lease was not renewed in 1892 because of the foundation of the University of Tasmania. The University moved into the High School buildings and the College closed. There had been a move to restructure Christ College as the new university, but this was defeated by the combined Presbyterian and Roman Catholic interests who were sensitive to what they perceived as an undue Anglican influence on education.

1911 The College reopened in 1911 as the matriculation section of the Hutchins School in Macquarie Street. The accumulated College assets were used to build a special Christ College wing for the matriculation section, and to acquire the Holy Trinity Rectory in Park Street as a hostel for theological and other students.

The College also had a very close association with St Wilfrid's College, the theological training college founded at "Richmond Hill", Cressy, in 1904. The property was bequeathed to the Diocese by James Denton Toosey, one of the Trustees appointed after the College's closure at Bishopsbourne in 1856, with the request that it be used if possible for the revival of Christ College.

By the nineteen twenties, St Wilfrid's College had run into difficulties, and at the same time Launceston Grammar protested that Hutchins, because of its close connection with the College, was receiving an unfair amount of the Christ College assets. Representations were made to Parliament, and the Christ College Act was passed in 1926, holding that the matriculation sections of Hutchins and Launceston Grammar were carrying out the secular academic intentions of the College's founders, and granting them each one third of the College's assets. The remaining third, with the proceeds from the sale of the "Richmond Hill" estate, was to be devoted to upgrading the Holy Trinity rectory site to "....provide for the training of young men in theological learning and Christian doctrine for admission to holy orders in connection with the Church of England in Tasmania and, as far as its means will allow, to provide for a college or hostel for students attending the University of Tasmania."

1929 The Warden of St Wilfrid's College, William Barrett, was appointed first Warden of the new college, and he and his five theological students and twelve university students move into enlarged premises on the Park Street site in 1929. In 1933 the College was formally affiliated with the University as its first residential college.

1971 When the University moved to the Sandy Bay campus in the sixties, the College followed. It was finally completed in 1971, when it also became the first Tasmanian college to take both men and women.

The Recent Present

In December, 1991, Christ College began a new chapter in its long and significant story. The Bishop, the Board of Management and the Christ College Trust entered an agreement whereby ownership and management of the College passed to the University of Tasmania. The agreement provides for the continuation of the College in the full integrity of its Anglican traditions and heritage.

In 1996 the College celebrated its sesquicentenary.

College Symbols

The College Badge and Motto. W R Barrett suggested the College motto Jesus Christus esto mihi (Jesus Christ shall be mine or Let Jesus Christ be mine). It is said to have been found on the tomb of an early Christian named Domitilla in the catacombs in Rome. Captain D Colbron Pearce, an artist on the staff of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, incorporated it in a design featuring a shield surmounted by a mitre. A few years later, the students expressed a wish to have the Dux Lux Rex Lex illustrated by symbols - hence the baton, torch, crown, and book.
The Rock. College members helped bring the College's best known symbol, the Rock, to the college site from the nearby quarry in Proctor's Road when the College moved to the Sandy Bay campus in 1962.

Names of the College Blocks

The College blocks are named after four former wardens, the first Bishop of Tasmania, and the College's main benefactor.

Gell - John Philip Gell (1816-1898) was the first Warden of the College when it opened in 1846. He was educated at Rugby (where he is said to have been the original of "Old Brooke" in Tom Brown's School Days) and Trinity College, Cambridge. He resigned in 1849, returning to England to marry Eleanor Franklin, Sir John Franklin's daughter. The most notable reminder of him is the original College Library collection. Gell believed firmly that a library should be the basis of the College's academic life, and he was assiduous in building it up from his own collection, and those of his family and friends. His portrait (done in later life) is in the Dining Hall.

Barrett - William Rothwell Barrett was the first Warden of Christ College to be appointed after the Christ College Act of 1926, and the founder of the College in its present form as a residential college of the University. He was Warden of the College from 1929 until 1949, and later became Assistant Bishop of Tasmania in 1955. He was very closely involved in the opening of Jane Franklin Hall, the first women's college in the University. His portrait is in the Dining Hall.

Dudley - Lancelot Stokes Dudley was Acting Warden in 1933, when Barrett was in England. He was appointed Warden in 1953, and remained with the College until his death from leukemia in 1957. He was a good scholar and an evangelical churchman, described by a contemporary as a "shy quiet man" who was probably better understood by his theological students than his undergraduate charges.

May - The Rev Canon (Emeritus) John May was a student of the College in the early thirties just after it became affiliated with the University. He returned to become Warden of the College from 1958-63, and again in 1981. He was responsible for the move from Park Street to the present site, and was closely involved with the design of the present College buildings. He became a Senior Fellow of the College in 1982. His portrait is in the Dining Hall.

Nixon - Francis Russell Nixon was the first Bishop of the Church of England in Tasmania. He was the moving force behind the foundation of the College in 1846 - against the better judgement of the first Warden who felt that the College was not secure enough financially to open at that time. He can probably also be held indirectly responsible for the collapse of the College in 1856 - the mismanagement of the College stemmed largely from his interference (in the appointment of a Bursar), and his indifference (in failing to see that the College Trustees carried out their duties properly). The College Library still has a number of the books that belonged to him.

Toosey - James Denton Toosey was one of the four Trustees appointed to manage the College affairs after its closure in 1856. When he died he bequeathed his property to the Diocese with the request that it would, if possible, be used for the revival of Christ College. He also bequeathed the portrait of the Duke of Wellington, the two large cupboards in the Senior Common Room, and one of the book cases.