Pusey House was opened in 1884 as a memorial to Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882), Regius Professor of Hebrew and Canon of Christ Church, who was for forty years a figurehead of the Oxford Movement and its de facto leader after Newman's conversion in 1845. With his fellow "Puseyites" he sought to bring the Church of England to a deeper understanding of its witness as part of the universal Catholic Church. The house was also intended to continue the work of Dr Pusey in restoring the Church of England's Catholic life and witness. That work continues today.
"Ein centrum von Catholic life", stumbled the late Canon Freddy Hood, Principal from 1934 – 1951, when challenged by a visiting German delegation who were asking just this question. The exchange was overheard by an undergraduate who went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury. "Not a bad definition of Pusey House", thought the young Lord Runcie; and not a bad definition it remains. There is a greater clarity and robustness in the manifesto set out by the leading Founder of Pusey House, Henry Parry Liddon, though his words perhaps lack the disarming warmth and spontaneity of those of Freddy Hood. For Liddon, Pusey House was to be "a home of sacred learning and a rallying point of the Christian faith", charged with doing "something to arrest the further decay of faith in Oxford". It was "to exhibit solid learning allied to Christian faith and piety", and, not least, "to keep its eye … on those speculations which, with the caprice of ever-changeful fashion, occupy in successive years the thoughts of young men." Now it is, rightly, young men and women: but with that amendment, the House remains true to each component of Liddon’s vision.