Codrington College is named after its benefactor, Christopher Codrington, who died on Good Friday, 1710. In his will he had left to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel two estates. One of the purposes of the bequest was that there should be maintained a number of professors who should be obliged to teach medicine, surgery and divinity.
After some delay - the result of legal disputes - the erection of the College got under way in 1715. The buildings were not completed until 1743, economic depression, drought and other difficulties having caused further delays. The College was officially opened on September 9th, 1745 and the Chapel dedicated on June 11th, 1749 - the Feast of St. Barnabas.
For a long time the College provided a general education, which included philosophy and divinity. As early as 1748 it began lectures in advanced studies, following the appointment of professors of Philosophy and Mathematics, and of surgery. The first graduate was ordained as early as 1759. In this regard, it catered for the sons of the local gentry who would otherwise have gone to England for their education. It also catered for a number of poorer, but academically able, young boys. It served, therefore to prepare young Barbadians for entry into the two Universities in England - Oxford and Cambridge. Later on the College began to offer tertiary education, and was affiliated to the University of Durham in 1875. It prepared candidates for Durham degrees until 1958. At a later date the College became affiliated to the University of the West Indies, for whose degree and Licentiate candidates are now examined.
It was in 1830 that the College began training candidates exclusively for ordination under the Rev. J.H. Pinder. Codrington College, therefore, holds a venerable place in the Anglican Communion as its first Theological College. It ante-dated Chichester (1839) England's First, and Wells (1840), in which latter, J.H. Pinder became the first Principal. He had served at Codrington from 1829-35. An eminent successor of Pinder's, Richard Rawle, 1847 - 1864, successfully opposed the attempt to have the College revert to its former function of educating the sons of the gentry.
Following affiliation with the University of Durham in 1875, the College proceeded to offer programmes in Classics as well as in Theology. As a result, the College has produced many persons who made their mark in teaching, law, medicine, the civil service, as well as in the Church. Since 1955, following the establishment of the University of the West Indies, the College has concentrated on Theological Studies. Its graduates are to be found in various parts of the Anglican Communion: Europe, Africa, North America, Australia, as well as the West Indies. A new development followed the affiliation of the College to the University of the West Indies in 1965. By virtue of this arrangement, the students of the College may be admitted to the Licentiate in Theology and the B.A. Theology of the University. Though the affiliation with Durham University continues, and students may still enter for the Durham B.A. Hons. in Theology, this affiliation is being used for post-graduate studies.
Beginning in 1989/90 the College expanded its offerings into post-graduate study. It is beginning with limited work in Biblical Studies and in Church History. The College has become a depository for archival material on the churches in the West Indies. Its microfilm collection includes the records of the SPG, The Church Missionary Society, the Baptist Missionary Society, and the Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Grenada. It is hoped that in due course the College will add other collections.
The financial problems, from which the enterprise suffered in its infancy, have continued to dog its path. It has a service to perform - a service that is greatly in demand - but it has limited resources with which to do its task. Its venture into providing training for lay leaders is not only proving to be worthwhile, but greatly in need of expansion.
With the completion of the restoration, it is hoped that the College will be able to broaden its programmes to meet the demands of the future. A proposal has been under study for some time to introduce a programme for Alcohol and Drug Counsellors. If this materialises, it will add a dimension, which closely approximates the medical provision, intended by the founder. The addition of this programme will also enable the College to offer greater service to the Barbadian and Caribbean Community. Other programmes are under consideration, and will be unveiled in due course.