In Victorian England, mission training was in its infancy. For women, there were simply no facilities for missionary training and mission agencies were reluctant to take single women who, in the language of the time, were not 'tested'.
Then in 1892 Mrs Tottenham, a godly and resolute lady with a passion for mission, responded to this need by setting up the YWCA Testing and Training Home in London with 'twelve candidates, two ladies and a cook'!
Taking an innovative and radical approach to mission training, Mrs Tottenham offered practical subjects like first aid and carpentry alongside more 'proper' subjects such as Church history and the Life of Christ.
Despite early scepticism, the new missionary training centre flourished. During her lifetime Mrs Tottenham saw hundreds of women from Redcliffe Missionary Training College, as the centre became known, serving God in many countries.
Today, Redcliffe College looks very different from the YWCA Testing and Training Home of 1892. Now located in Gloucester, the college student population is close to 150 strong, with men, women, couples and families drawn from around 30 countries.
Since its formation, Redcliffe has seen many changes - but much of what made Mrs Tottenham's work distinctive still remains. We still offer a unique blend of practical and biblical training for cross cultural ministry. Our courses are regularly updated to meet the needs of the next generation of mission partners. And even the college's family atmosphere is a legacy of Mrs Tottenham's vision.