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St Johns College

 St John's College

Welcome to St John's College

Founded in 1909, St John’s College boasts a lively and diverse mix of students and is like no other Durham college.

Set in a series of beautiful listed buildings in Durham's historic heart, the College enjoys stunning views of the Norman Cathedral and River Wear.St John's is one of the smallest colleges, and is renowned for its welcoming and supportive atmosphere.

St John's has two distinctive yet engaged communities at its heart: a diverse community of undergraduates, postgraduates and academics studying for University degrees in all disciplines, and Cranmer Hall, a thriving Anglican theological college in which people are educated and formed for church leadership.

The College has a degree of independence within the University, both financially and in its governance. Our students study for University degrees alongside members of other colleges, but we have the freedom to do things a little differently.

Explore St John's College

St John's College,Durham University
St John's College,Durham University
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Find out about student life at St John's Collge


Fri, 4 September 20153:00pm5 Years On Reunion: Class of 2010
Thu, 10 September 20159:30am to 6:30pmOpen Day - Degree of Doctor of Theology and Ministry
Tue, 15 September 20159:00amConference on Ecclesiology and Ethnography
Fri, 18 September 20153:00pm10 Years On Reunion: Class of 2005
Mon, 19 October 20156:00pmBorderlands
Fri, 23 September 201630 Years on Reunion: Sep 2016


'When I pray..' reprinted to meet demand

When I pray...

A new book on prayer by Professor David Wilkinson, Principal, has already been reprinted. The book, which was launched earlier this year and raises the question of how, and whether, God answers prayer, is available to buy from Amazon

(5 Aug 2015)

Cyclists tackle 150 mile round trip to meet the Archbishop of York in fundraising bid for new Learning Resource Centre

Two intrepid cyclists from Cranmer Hall, a leading theological training college in the North East of England, will embark on an epic journey from Durham to York and back in a bid to fundraise for a new Learning Resource Centre on the 6th July.


Martin Gibson, a staff member, and Graham Holdsworth, a Cranmer student, will undertake the challenge in just one day, cycling to Bishopthorpe Palace to be greeted by the Archbishop of York before refilling their water bottles and returning back to Durham.


The Learning Resource Centre is the most significant fundraising project for St John’s College and Cranmer Hall in their collective histories. The £2.5m project will see the development of a 21st century learning and teaching space which will offer a new and enhanced environment for learning, with individual and group study space along with audio-visual equipment in flexible teaching and meeting spaces – including video conferencing facilities for joint teaching with other UK and world-wide programmes.


Rev. Prof David Wilkinson, Principal of the College said: “We are committed to providing the best resources we can for those who pass through our doors. Our existing library, housed in a former chapel, simply does not meet the needs of our students. 


“Because we are financially independent of Durham University, we receive no external funding for such projects. We have already raised over £1.8m through the generosity of friends and supporters of College.”


Martin Gibson said: “Although we are both experienced cyclists, Graeme is more used to the longer distances than I am. He is also younger and much fitter than me!”


To support this venture, please visit . For further information about the sponsored bike ride, please telephone Martin Gibson on 0191 3343883


For more information on St John’s College and Cranmer Hall, please visit

(26 Jun 2015)

Concert and Recordings

Deryck Webb and Robin Thodey are giving a concert in Durham Cathedral, in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, on Friday 26th June at 7.30pm - open to all. Tickets are £12.50 and can be reserved by tel. 0191 384 9957. Recently they have been recording a musical selection for the Voice, the Lute and the Guitar in the College Chapel, of which four can be found on YouTube (more below).
In 1553 ‘Hortus Musarum’ a collection of Airs de Cour was published in France, and ‘Cessez, mes yeulx’ is the first song in the collection. It is the period of ‘les larmes’ (tears) in France and these songs for lute are mournful and mostly very sad. In England, John Dowland was the great composer of lute music and lute song in the 16th century and his greatest composition was ‘Lachrimae’ (tears). ‘His golden locks’ is the plea by Sir Henry Lea to Queen Elizabeth I, to be allowed to retire from his position at court as the director of tournaments and jousting. The Queen would not allow him to retire from court, and there is a collection of songs for Sir Henry, each year begging to be allowed to retire to the country.
The songs for guitar are from the Viennese Period in the mid 19th century. Schubert’s songs were published both for keyboard and for guitar. The songs accompanied by guitar are rarely heard, and ‘Ave Maria’, this hymn to the Virgin Mary, is so well loved, and even more so when performed with guitar. Vienna at this time was the centre of great musical life and Mauro Giuliani, a young composer from Italy, wrote many songs and much music for guitar. A sixth string had recently been added to the guitar which gave the instrument a depth of bass not previously experienced. ‘Ombre amene’ is the first song from the collection ‘Sei Ariette’.
These four songs, from French, English, German and Italian composers are a little ‘pot pourri pour l’Europe’.
For more like this please click here.

(3 Jun 2015)

Towards a Theology of Church Growth

Archbishop Justin Welby has written of a book which comes out of St Johns College, Durham, ‘This book is a treasure store which I commend happily, and with delight at the excellent timing that has bought it into being at this point in the Church’s life.’ He writes this in his foreword for Towards a Theology of Church Growth (Ashgate 2015), which is edited by David Goodhew, a member of staff of Cranmer Hall. The volume is to be launched at St Johns on 26 May, 6.15 pm and at St Mellitus College, London at 5 pm on 8 June. In the volume, major scholars - such as Alister McGrath, Sr benedicta Ward, Graham Tomlin, Prof Kavin Rowe and Miranda Threlfall Holmes – explore how scripture, doctrine and church history provide compelling grounds for seeking the numerical growth of the church.



(13 May 2015) » More about Towards a Theology of Church Growth

Racing with the Nationally Competing Clubs Soon?

In a very good show, only the Men's Novice 4 and the 3rd VIII made less than the semi-finals of all the competition. The Men's 2nd VIII demolished a York St John's Crew (and also managed to do what the 1st VIII couldn't do last year in beating them), worked their way to the Semi-Finals and then sadly lost. The Women's IV, in their first ever race and with the pressure of living up to the current winning ways of the women's squad, managed to fly through the first rounds showing promise for the future, but the crew in the Semi-Finals proved too much. 

Whilst the 1st VIII wasn't out in full force as our strongest crew, a mix-match (and we borrowed Trev's brand new Fillippi 8) crew managed to win (!!!!) our category with at least 3 lengths distance in every race - coming home with more silverware and some more British Rowing points!

The amount of points our Men's 1st VIII, and the Women's IV that competed two weeks ago currently have is now very daunting - one more win (and the points that come from it) and we will all move into IM2 - where the likes of Newcastle, Durham, and the nationally competing clubs like to dominate. Nevertheless, one more win and there is a SJCBC crew racing against these crews. This, I believe, has not happened before and is a sign of the current standard of the Club!

(11 May 2015)

When I Pray, What Does God Do?

The question of how, and whether, God answers prayer has been intellectually shaped by the rise of science, the problem of evil and the nature of the biblical records. Scientist and theologian David Wilkinson shares his own struggles with the question of how God answers prayer. Science does not rule out God acting in the universe in surprising ways; the Bible shows a God who acts in the world in response to people's prayers. Yet there is always a mystery about the nature and outcome of prayer, not least in the experience of unanswered prayer. The author shares his struggles with praying in the midst of his wife's long-term illness. What we believe affects how we pray. God is neither a slot machine, nor an indulgent parent, nor a divine dictator, nor a ruler in absentia. How does God work in a world of science? Why doesn't He answer more often? Has God acted in history? How did Jesus pray? How, in a world governed by law and grace, should we pray?


Pre-order at amazon

(5 May 2015)

Welcome Dr Lydia Reid

The Principal, David Wilkinson, is delighted that St John's College has been joined by Dr Lydia Reid who will be based in the College and working with David and Tom McLeish.


Lydia recently joined Durham University as a postdoctoral research assistant on The Templeton funded project 'Equipping Religious Leadership in an Age of Science’. Prior to this she was working at Nottingham Trent University as a part-time research assistant and lecturer. Lydia's background is in the sociology of religion and she completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Manchester (2006-2014). Her PhD was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and explored religious university students' experiences of studying at a secular institution, as well as their attitudes more broadly to the secular arguments of the New Atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris).


Her interests lie in qualitative research (particularly the use of stimulus-driven interviews), religion, non-religion and scientific arguments. Lydia is particularly concerned with challenging the notion that religious and secular worldviews ought to be oppositional to one another; indeed, her own research points towards a much more complex and nuanced relationship between the two.

(14 Apr 2015)

Preaching the Psalms

On Saturday 21 February, 84 delegates arrived at Haughton House from various parts of the north east to be part of a day on Preaching the Psalms which St John’s College, Durham University was hosting. The day was organised by Rev Dr Kate Bruce and is part of her series on ‘Preaching’. The day was led by three outstanding speakers.

Dr Richard Briggs began the morning with some instruction on Psalms and the Life of Faith: Then and Now and after coffee continued to unwrap Psalms and Jesus Christ: The Lord is King!

After lunch Rev David Day reflected on various methods and ways of Preaching the Psalms and offered some examples.

Rev Dr Kate Bruce, Deputy Warden of Cranmer Hall rounded off the day by creatively unpacking the unpreachable sermon [Psalm 137].

There was a bookstall available to those attending the conference to dip into and purchase from and a simple lunch was provided, along with breaks for refreshment in the morning and afternoon. The whole day was highly valued by the participants as can be seen by some of the quotes featured below:

(24 Mar 2015) » More about Preaching the Psalms

Women's Head of the River Race

Our Women's composite 1st VIII managed to climb 50 places from their start place (quite possibly one of the highest in the country - I haven't done the maths, but it seems possible given the amount of entries), beating EVERY SINGLE college crew apart from a St Cuthberts crew that very annoyingly beat them by a single, frustrating second, but our crew climbed 40 more places in the start order then they did! In a race that lasts 23 minutes or so, one second represents less than 0.1% difference - so we're quite frustrated by that!​


Our SJCBC/HCBC crew beat crews from DUBC, lots of Universities including UCL, Exeter and Birmingham, and no other college, other than SCSBC came close! As far as I know, the big Oxbridge colleges also fell short of our time, including the big ones like University College, Oxford.


Their result is testament the principle that good equipment (HCBC were providing the boat), but also (and very importantly) hard working rowers from Hatfield College Boat Club, and St John's College Boat Club can do very well! For more click here.


Sebastien de la Fuente

(17 Mar 2015)


Friday (06/03) saw the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, deliver an interesting and thought provoking Borderlands Lecture entitled ‘God's Mission is Restorative Justice’, that was fiercely oversubscribed and attended by over 150 of the College’s members. The lecture threw new insight in to the ideas of Justice and what exactly that should mean in the world today.


The Archbishop’s public lecture was part of his visitation to St John’s College at Durham University whereby he met with as many of the college’s bodies as time could allow. After leading morning prayers at the College he spent time answering questions from staff and later Cranmer Ordinands, before having lunch with students. After lunch with undergraduates and postgraduates, the Archbishop gave his lecture, before meeting with College Officers.


After such an inspiring lecture, we do hope that the Archbishop returns to St. John’s College soon.


The Principal of St John’s, Revd Professor David Wilkinson comments, ‘The Borderlands Lecture explores how theology can be part of the dialogue concerning the big issues that face the world today. The Archbishop’s leadership both on robust Christian faith and on how such faith can make a key contribution to justice in the world makes him an ideal lecturer in this series. Further, the Archbishop’s active support of the work of the College in his role as Visitor is a tremendous encouragement to our work of scholarship, education and hospitality in a world class university’.

(9 Mar 2015)

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0191 334 3500

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