Preparing for our centenary: steps towards the founding of St Mark’s College in 1925

St Mark’s College was officially opened on 15 March 1925, and will celebrate its centenary in 2025.

On 7 September 1920, the first step was taken to create St Mark’s College – a resolution in the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide appointing a committee to consider establishing a college for students of the University of Adelaide. The centenary of this resolution was marked by the College on 7 September 2020.

Documents produced for this initial committee and successor founding committees may be found below. They reflect the noble and ambitious vision of the College’s founders.

The movement in the 1920s to create an Anglican residential college affiliated to the University of Adelaide (which was hoped to be the forerunner of a wider college system in Adelaide) was led by people most of whom had studied at the great collegiate universities of Oxford or Cambridge, or had been students at the leading university residential colleges in Melbourne (especially Trinity College at the University of Melbourne) or Sydney (especially St Paul’s College at the University of Sydney). They believed very strongly in the benefits of collegiate education.

The goal is summed up in one of the founders’ documents this way:

St Mark’s College is founded as a Church of England College affiliated to the University of Adelaide, to assist in the advancement of sound learning and education and the formation of high character, where students of the University of Adelaide may reside, and receive tuition and supervision in all branches of University work.

Amongst the many aspects that stand out in these and other documents are

  • the strong focus of the founders on promoting ideals of service, as well as, of course, on academic tuition, sporting and other extra-curricular opportunity, and other benefits of college life, and
  • the reliance on philanthropy, without which the College could not have come into being (or survived, let alone prospered).

Although various of the founders were very conscious of the importance of women’s university education, and St Mark’s later played an important role in the founding of a college for women (St Ann’s College), these documents refer to St Mark’s being founded as a college for male students. In 1982, St Mark’s became coeducational – and in 2022 will celebrate the 40th anniversary of that landmark development.

The following documents, which reflect the evolution of the founders’ efforts from 1921 to 1924, are:

  • a document written by the Revd (later Canon) Julian Bickersteth MC, then Headmaster of St Peter’s College, in 1921, for the committee appointed by the Anglican Synod on 7 September 1920 – here
  • “Suggested Foundation of University Residential College” – here
  • “Foundation of University Residential College (Church of England) to be affiliated to the University of Adelaide and to be known as St Mark’s College, Adelaide” – here
  • “Preliminary Prospectus and Entry Form” – here

Among the many founders of the College were –

Canon Julian Bickersteth MC

Sir Henry Newland DSO

Charles A. S. Hawker MP

Mr Dudley Turner

Sir Archibald Grenfell Price, who became the first Master of the College

Further details of the history of St Mark’s College can be found here