The Radcliffe Centre was once a church for a group of Christians who disagreed with the Church of England: nonconformists. Being a nonconformist was very popular in Buckingham when this church was built in 1857, as was the gothic design that influenced the building.

The former church is named after John Radcliffe who is famous for becoming royal physician to King William lll and Queen Mary ll. A number of buildings in Oxford are named after him, including the Radcliffe Camera and the Radcliffe Infirmary. In 1713 he was elected to parliament as a member for Buckingham.

The building was only a church for around 100 years and is now owned by the University.