Historical Overview

Over 275 Years of History

Codrington College Historical Overview


Some two hundred and eighty years ago, a young man- had a dream- a great spread of the vision of christianity and the growth of the church of the West Indies. But he was not just another young dreamer and visionary, because he had the wherewithal to make his dream come true. At the age of thirty, he inherited two plantations in Barbados, and February 22, 1703, when he was thirty-five, he stated in his will that the plantations were to be used to bring his dream to fruition.

This young man, Christopher Codrington, thus set in motion a series of -far-reaching events at whose hub has been the college built to incarnate that dream, Codrington College.

John Holder

Lecturer, Codrington College

by John W. Holder
Brief overview

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Important Dates in The History of Codrington College


The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) obtained possession of the two Codrington estates.


Colonel Christian Lilly, a famous English architect, commissioned to prepare plans for the College. They took him two years to complete. He followed the pattern of a typical English college, with four long sides enclosing a quadrangle. The northern side of the College as proposed by Lilly was not built. This was due to a lack of funds. The Construction of the College thus fell on the “typical English college” as proposed by Lilly.


Work on the College began. In the SPG report of this year, it is described as a college “for the use of the mission in those parts of the British dominions”, and as a “nursery for the propagation of the Gospel, for providing a never-failing supply of laboureres to be sent forth into the harvest of God”.


The building of the College was completed.  In a sermon preached before the SPG in 1717, Philip, the Bishop of Hereford, had declared, “… how difficult soever it is to lay the first stone in this great work, we ourselves, by God’s blessing, shall live to see it rise, and be happily brought in our own time to some degree of perfection”. This hope was partially realised in 1743.


The College was opened as a Grammar school with seventeen pupils.


The College as well as the neighbouring ‘Mansion-house’ (now the Principal’s lodge) were almost destroyed by a devastating hurricane. The reports of SPG from 1780/81 paint a vivid picture of the devastation:

The society have been favoured with one letter from Sir John Gay Alleyne, Bart., and another from the Rev. Mr. Mashart Catechist at Codrington College, relative to the dreadful hurricane, and the damage done thereby to the estates; by which it is collected that most of the buildings on the estates have been thrown down, except the mills, but not one negro lost, and very few cattle, in proportion to the number on the estates; the Mansion-house entirely uncovered, the wall alone standing; and part of the college, particularly the Chapel, greatly damaged, the roof being blown away, and several windows broken down, but the walls standing. The wing of the College where the library is kept has suffered little, so that it now serves for the residence of the manager and his family The top of the School-room has been blown down, but Mr. Mashart proposed to make use of it for Divine service until the Chapel shall be made fit for the purpose.


Under the direction of Mr. Husbands, Catechist, the school was re-opened at the Mansion-house on the ‘Upper Estate’ with six boys.


Under the direction of Mr. Husbands, Catechist, the school was re-opened at the Mansion-house on the ‘Upper Estate’ with six boys.


The College was repaired and opened under the Rev. Mark Nicholson as President and superior master, and Mr. Thomas Moody as his assistant. The Grammar school was moved from the upper estate back to the College.


The Grammar school was removed to the Chaplain’s lodge on the upper estate under the charge of the Rev. John Packer. Measures were taken for the opening of the College “no longer as a mere Grammar school for boys, but as a strictly collegiate institution for the education of young men, especially with a view to Holy Orders” (SPG report on Codrington College, 1847).


The College was opened for the reception of students.


The College was devastated by a hurricane. The roof and top storey were blown away, the library and most of its books was demolished, and the roof of the Principal’s house (the old Mansion-house) was blown off. Within two years (1833) most of the damaged buildings were repaired.


The SPG took a decision to close Codrington College. There was a concerted effort to prevent this disaster, with the Governor of Barbados and the Archbishop of Canterbury appealing for funds to ensure that the College remained open. There seems to have been a change of heart at the SPG, and it sent out some £2200 to the College.


The College was gutted by fire with only the walls left intact.


The college was re-opened with a slight increase in accommodation.


A new scheme for the running of the Codrington estates and the College was instituted. The USPG, the trustees for the estates, felt that the day to day running of the College should pass to the Anglican Church in the Province of the WestIndies. It was decided to establish two boards, a Board of Management to manage the Codrington estates, and a Board of Governors to see after the welfare of Codrington College. One of the main aims of the Board of Management was to maximize the resources of the Codrington estates.


On the 1st of October of this year, the Codrington Trust Act 1983-27 was promulgated in the Barbados parliament.  The administration and control of the Codrington Estate Trust was vested in a new Board of Trustees.  This not only superseded the arrangements of 1976, but after 271 years (1712-1983), legaL control of the Codrington Trust passed from the USPG to a totally West Indian group.

To understand this event of 1983, we must go back not only to 1712 when the then SPG acquired legal control of the Codrington Trust, but also to the years 1745, 1829, 1879 and 1979. The year 1745 of course marks the opening of aGrammar school at Codrington College. From then until today, there has always been a grammar school on the Codrington estates. When in 1829 the decision  was taken to transform Codrington College into a real collegiate institution, the Grammar school housed in the building was removed to the Chaplain’s lodge on the upper estates. Hence the name, the Lodge School.

In 1879, the Government of Barbados took over the running of the school, meeting all the expenses of the institution and paying a small fee to the SPG for the use of the premises. Indeed, the Government was given a one hundred year lease on the premises by the SPG.

This lease expired in 1979, and after some consideration and much debate, the Government decided that the time had come to acquire possession of the premises of the Lodge School. To do so, the Codrington Trust─whichwas still vested in the USPG (formerly SPG) ─had to be repatriated.  The USPG was only toowilling to do so, since this body also felt that it was due time for the Codrington Trust to be placed totally in the hands of West Indians.

The inaugural meeting of the new Trust was held at Mandeville House, St. Michael, Barbados, on 18th October 1983.  At this meeting, the then Secretary of the USPG, Canon James Robertson, formally handed over to the new Trust the historic manuscript containing, among other things, a copy of the will of Christopher Codrington.

The events of 1983 can be viewed as the climax to the long, fascinating saga of the Codrington estates and Codrington College. The Trust benefited handsomely from the Government’s acquisition of the Lodge School property.  Today, almost for the first time in the 250 years of the life of the College, it can look forward to a steady, if not adequate, income accruing from the sale of the Lodge School  property. In a very ironic way, the estates whose sole function according to the Codrington will is to provide the wherewithal for the “study and practice of Physic and Chirurgery as well as Divinity” at Codrington College, came closest to realizing their purpose when part of them was sold.


A new Board of Governors for the College was established by the Trust. It held its first meeting on 11th July 1986. BOARD OF TRUSTEES – Mr. Merton Hewitt, Mr. Derek Courtenay, Sir Neville Osborne, Archbishop Orland Lindsay, Mrs Edna Scott, Bishop Drexel Gomez and Mr. Ira Rowe

Celebrating more than 275 years of history

Historic Gallery


Christopher Codrington III

Christopher Codrington III (1668-1710), the benefactor after whom Codrington College is named, was the son of a very prominent Barbadian, Christopher Codrington II, who was at one time Governor General of the Leeward Islands.  He was born either at Codrington Plantation in St. Michael, or Didmarton Plantation, now called Society, in St. John.  He spent most of his boyhood at Consetts, the site of the present College. 

After joining his father in Antigua for a short while, Christopher Codrington III went to England where he took a degree at Oxford University and became a Fellow of All Souls College.  He served in the Army for sometime before returning to the Leeward Islands to succeed his father as Governor General.  His policy of amelioration of the poor whites and slaves brought him into disfavour of the plantocracy.  Consequently, he gave up the position of Governor Codrington College and returned to Barbados to live in retirement at Consetts in St. John. 

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Some Academic Highlights of the College

If the history of Codrington College has been one full of disasters, it has also been a history full of commendable academic achievements.  From the 9th September 1745 when the College opened its doors as a Grammar school with twelve students, until the present day, a steady stream of students have graduated.  Following are some of the academic milestones.


The Rev. Thomas Rotherham, M.A. of Queen College, Oxford, was appointedHeadmaster of the school, with the Rev. Joseph Bewsham appointed Usher.


The school was opened in September of this year.  In October the Headmaster sent off what was the first report of the school to SPG.  By this time, the number of students had increased to seventeen.  Mr. Rotherham tells of their academic levels: One “can read”. . . one “can read and write” . . .one “cannot read a word”. These seventeen boys were “scholars of the foundation”, i.e., their education was free.  The SPG report of 1747 mentions thirty other students who “were not on the foundation”, i.e., they were boarders who paid for their education.


A SPG report of this year states that the College should be “providing an adequate education for such of the West Indian youths as should be disposed to devote themselves to Christian ministry in their native islands, without seeking the necessary qualifications in Europe, at a distance from their friends and relations”.


The College ceased being a grammar school and was designated a full fledged college.  The Rev. J. Pinder, M. A. of Caius College, Cambridge, was sent out by the SPG to be Principal.  The rev. E. p. Smith, B.A of Pembroke College, Oxford,  was appointed Tutor.


October 12: Codrington College began a new era as a full fledged college. 


By this date, some 111 students had graduated from the College since the start of its new era in 1830.  The distribution of the students per country was as follows:
            Anguilla    1                                 Jamaica  1     
            Antigua     9                                Montserrat  1
            Barbados   67                              Nevis  1
            Bermuda 1                                  New Brunswick  1
            British Guiana    2                        St. Christopher (St. Kitts)  2
            Dominica     1                             St. Lucia  1
            England      13                            St. Vincent  3
            Ireland       1                              Trinidad  6


Codrington College affiliated with Durham University in England.  The students of Codrington were now allowed to read for Durham degrees.  The affiliation with Durham lasted until 1955.  During these years, the College became a ‘mixed’ college academically, consisting of ‘secular’ students reading for degrees in  classics, and those preparing for ordination to the priesthood, many of whom also read classics for the Durham degree.


Through the initiative of Principal A. H. Anstey, the College launched out into teacher training.  The Rawle Training Institute for men was established, with a similar institution for women being founded in the following year (1914).  These students shared in the social and religious life of Codrington College.


The B.A. in Theology of the UWI, approved by Senate in 1970, was introduced at Codrington College.  Courses for the Licentiate had begun in 1965.


A five-month course in Communications was introduced at Codrington.  The course was jointly sponsored by the Extra-Mural Department of the UWI, the Caribbean Conference of Churches and Codrington College. ‘Communicarib’, as the course was called, catered to persons involved in work with the newspaper, television and radio media in the Caribbean.  The course was held each ensuing year until 1981.


The first group of Codrington students graduated with the B.A. in Theology of the UWI.


Mrs. Edna Scott created history by being the first female to enter Codrington College as a part-time non-resident student, to study for the B.A in Theology.  She was followed two weeks later by Mrs. Pearl Kirton who pursued the same studies. 


A part-time course leading to the Diploma in Theology began at Codrington.  This course was specifically for lay persons who played a leading role in their church, and those who taught religion in day schools.

Principals of the College 1830 et seq.

Adapted from Holder, John W., Codrington College: A Brief History, Barbados: Caribbean Contact, 1988.


The Rev. J. H. Pinder



The Rev. Henry Jones 


The Rev. Richard Rawle


The Rev. W. T. Webb 


The Rev. A. Caldecott 


The Rev. Herbert Bindley


The Rev. Arthur Anstey 


The Rev. Canon John C. Wippell 


The Rev. A. H. Sayer  


The Rev. Jonathan Graham, C.R. 


The Rev. Anselm Genders, C.R. 


The Rev. William Wheeldon, C.R.


The Rev. Godfrey Pawson, C.R.


The Rev. Martin Garrison 



The Rev. Dr. Kortright Davis (Acting)


The Rev. Dr. Sehon Goodridge 


titus wd sm
Prof. Canon Noel F. Titus 


The Rev. Dr. Ian Rock (Acting)

2006- 2015

The Rev. Dr. Ian Rock 

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