AN Oxford University college has received grants of almost £500,000 to help people learn about the history of the Baptist church.

Regent’s Park College in Pusey Street, off St Giles, has received £488,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Baptist Union Newington Court Fund.

The money will provide opportunities for people to learn about the important part Baptists played in the history of the UK.

Material will be catalogued and some placed online to make it more accessible.

College librarian Emma Walsh said: “This grant will help us realise the dream of helping more people to discover and engage with the unique riches that are held at the Angus library.”

British Baptist life began in 1612 when a group of men and women returned to England from the Netherlands where they had been sheltering from religious persecution.

From that day, until the late 19th century, when the final restrictions on Baptists and other non-conformists were lifted, Baptists faced fines and imprisonment.

The college’s Angus Library holds many historic volumes and documents about the origins of the Baptist movement.

The library holds more than 70,000 printed books, pamphlets, journals and church records.

The library incorporates the former libraries and archives of The Baptist Missionary Society, founded in 1792, The Baptist Union of Great Britain, founded in 1832, The Baptist Historical Society and The Baptist Times.