Our history

Trinity College came into being on 1st January 1972. Based in Stoke House, it was a merger of three Bristol theological colleges: Clifton Theological College (which had used the building for theological education since 1932), Tyndale Hall, and the women’s college, Dalton House.

Pictured below are the students and staff of the newly-formed Trinity College in 1972. In the front row (middle) is Trinity’s first principal, Alec Motyer. To his left is Associate Principal, JI Packer; to his right is Dean of Women, Joyce Baldwin; and to Joyce’s right is the Dean, Gervais Angel.

Our history is a colourful one, and we acknowledge that the forming of Trinity could have been handled better (as recounted in Colin Buchanan’s book, Three in One), but we rejoice in how God has used us all. As a community, it’s exciting to think of the future ahead as we consider all that God has done through all who have been involved with Trinity over the years.

50 years of Trinity College

In 2022 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Trinity College with a reunion for alumni and friends, featuring a service in the chapel, a hog roast, a talk by our Principal, a tour of Trinity, tea and cake and an evening celebration. We also celebrated the launch of Colin Buchanan’s book on the history of Trinity, Three in One.

At the time, our Chief Executive, Andrew Lucas, calculated that in the past 50 years we had trained about 1,400 ordinands. It is exciting to think about the impact those 1,400 ordinands will have had on the world, but even more exciting to think of the impact that our current students and those we’ve not even met yet will have, too. 

Stoke House

The college’s main building, Stoke House, was completed in 1669 for Sir Robert Cann – merchant, mayor of Bristol, and Member of Parliament.

Research into the history of Stoke House carried out in 2020 by our Director of Postgraduate Research, Dr Jamie Davies, revealed links between the Cann family and the transatlantic trade in enslaved peoples. It is, he concluded, “beyond reasonable doubt” that Stoke House exists because of profits from this trade. The Cann family, he discovered, was not only passively complicit in this trade (as was much of Bristol) but was itself actively involved through the kidnapping, purchase, and sale of slaves, and was involved in promoting and defending the practice of transatlantic slavery from its inception. We believe the enslavement of other human beings is a sin and an affront to God, in whose image all people are made. We are aware that we continue to benefit from ownership of the building. Part of our vision to ‘live like the kingdom is near’ includes becoming a more diverse and inclusive institution and this is something we are actively working on.

A view of Stoke House by Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1791, depicting Turner and three friends on the lawn.

Past, present and future

Stoke House’s orangery eventually became the college chapel. The ballroom, an extension to the original house, became the library. Modern additions to the grounds include the Carter building, now used for dispersed learners and visitors, the Clifton building with studies and smaller lecture rooms, the student common room, the dining room, the main lecture rooms, our day nursery, and Henry Martyn House, which is equipped for virtual seminars as well as guest accommodation.

Trinity offers on-site accommodation for single students and college flats and houses off-site for couples and families. We also offer guest rooms for visitors.

We are currently working on a site development project, building new on-site accommodation for single ordinands while making the best use of the assets we already have. 


White man with grey hair and glasses, smiling at the camera
Trinity College Bristol Icon Quote
Trevor Reynolds, Trinity 1977-80

"My training in the vibrant fellowship of Trinity was the launchpad for a life of Christian ministry. Having been called to pastoral ministry in my late 20’s, I found my time there edifying and indeed thrilling, especially in contrast to the rather dry legal studies I had previously had to undergo when training as a lawyer. Wonderful to start lectures and even exams with prayer!"


Certificate in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Three-year Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Graduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Postgraduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Master of Arts in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Modes of Study

Ordination Training

Theological Study (Independent)


Postgraduate research

Come and visit us

The best way to find out if we’re the right fit for you is to come and visit us. We have several Open Days and Open Afternoons during the course of a year. If those dates don’t work for you, don’t worry – we can arrange for you to visit another time. We look forward to meeting you!

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