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Durham University

St John's College

The Principal's Office

The Principal's Office consists of the Principal, Revd Prof David Wilkinson, the Deputy Principal, Dr Anne Allen and PA to the Principal and Deputy Principal, Clare Towns.

Revd Professor David Wilkinson



Tel: 0191 334 3895


David Wilkinson is the Principal of St John’s College and Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion in Durham University.


Before working in Durham as a theologian, he was a scientist and then a Methodist minister in inner city Liverpool. David’s background is research in theoretical astrophysics, where his Durham PhD was in the study of star formation, the chemical evolution of galaxies and terrestrial mass extinctions such as the event which wiped out the dinosaurs. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and has published a wide range of papers on these subjects.

After this research he trained for the Methodist ministry, studying theology at Fitzwilliam College and Wesley House, Cambridge. He then served in a variety of appointments, including a growing church in Liverpool and as Methodist chaplain at Liverpool University.

David arrived in Durham in 1999 and held a Fellowship in Christian Apologetics at St John's College, and taught systematic theology in the Department of Theology and Religion.

His current work involves the relationship of the Christian theology to contemporary culture, from science to pop culture. He has had a long interest in the dialogue of science and religion, especially as it impacts the physical sciences. God, Time and Stephen Hawking (Monarch, 2001), Christian Eschatology and the Physical Universe (T&T Clark 2010) and Science, Religion and the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (OUP, 2014) are examples of that work. This work forms some of the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching that David does in the department where he teaches modules in science and theology. His second Durham PhD is in Systematic Theology and explored Christian eschatology.

Dr Anne Allen

Acting Principal


Telephone: 0191 334 3873


Anne manages the implementation of University strategy within the College, oversees the construction of the College’s new library and leads on fundraising.


Born in Bishop Auckland, Anne came to Durham in 1986 to read archaeology and after a spell working for English Heritage and further study at St Andrews returned to do a PhD with a research fellowship from the National Maritime Museum. She has subsequently worked mainly in the North East including on the senior management team at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle and Barnard Castle Vision. For 12 years she ran Bowman Solutions consultancy, delivering culture & heritage development projects across the region for local authority and private sector clients. Anne returned to Durham University in a fundraising role for the Business School in 2014 and has served on University Council and St John’s College Council. Following a secondment to St John’s as Development Director in 2017 she took on a new role as Deputy Principal in September.

Clare Towns

Personal Assistant to The Principal and Deputy Principal

Clare is the first point of contact for the Principal’s office, manages the diary, organises events, looks after visiting fellows and is responsible for the administration of College Council.

Clare also manages the College Office (Reception). The College Office team are the first point of contact for any general queries and for security, keys, post, meal tickets, gym admission and numerous other College enquiries.

Clare has a background in facilities management and then communications. She is married to Stephen and together they enjoy travel, eating out and walking Charlie the Working Cocker Spaniel.

Contact us

The Principal's Office

St John's College 
3 South Bailey 

Office hours: 9:004:30pm

T: 0191 334 3856


St John's College, Durham is a recognised College of Durham University and incorporates Cranmer Hall. Charity No. 1141701 Limited Company No. 113496 (England and Wales) VAT No. 334 6364 57.