We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

St John's College



Statement from the Principal

It is with great sadness that we learnt over Easter of the death of Milly Savill (nee Coulson) with her husband Toby. They were killed in a buggy crash on the Greek island of Santorini.

Milly was a student here at John’s and graduated in 2015. She was an outstanding theologian and was taught by the Principal in his course on science and theology where she excelled. She led the College CU and was captain of the Netball B team.

She taught at St Anne's Catholic primary school in Vauxhall. With her husband Toby, a graduate of Hild Bede in the same year, she had a strong Christian faith. 


(24 Apr 2019) » More about Statement from the Principal

Revd Professor David Wilkinson in Jerusalem

Last week the Principal took part in a conference held in Jerusalem on the legacy of Stephen Hawking with theologians, philosophers and leading cosmologists such as Avi Loeb and Bernard Carr.

(27 Mar 2019)

All Years Reunion

This September St John's College will be hosting a reunion for graduates of all ages. In addition to the usual activities of a reunion, such as formal dinner, a quiz in the bar and brunch, this reunion will feature many extra events for old Johnians to enjoy. From a guided tour of Durham Cathedral and an exclusive viewing of the University Art Collection to a walking tour of Durham, the reunion will give you the chance to relive the Durham days you remember so well and experience Durham anew. 

Find out more about the reunion and sign up here. 

(25 Mar 2019)

Vice-Chancellor of University attends Festival Dinner

On Wednesday 20th March we were delighted to have the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, Professor Stuart Corbridge, be our guest to Festival Dinner. Festival Dinner is an annual formal dinner at which the outgoing student executive committee are commended for their hard-work and the College celebrates the end of Epiphany Term. Many thanks to all the students who work tirelessly for student common room affairs. 

(22 Mar 2019)

Scientists in Congregations

The Principal David Wilkinson leads the Scientists in Congregations project, which works with churches and cathedrals across the UK to foster greater understanding about science and faith. This summer they'll be marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing at Ely Cathedral as part of a science festival on space exploration, Artificial Intelligence and future technologies.

Find out more about the exhibitions and where you can find them in this Telegraph article or this Church of England press release


(20 Mar 2019)

Appointment of a new College Chaplain

St John's College is delighted to announce the appointment of Revd Anna Brooker as part-time Chaplain.

Anna grew up in Liverpool, studied in York and Cambridge and spent many years as a primary teacher in London, alongside lay ministry in her local Anglican church. Her vocation to ordained ministry arose from her work with families and those seeking baptism, and she trained at Ridley Hall, later followed by a masters degree in practical theology at York St John.

(20 Feb 2019) » More about Appointment of a new College Chaplain

The Principal in Cambridge

On Thursday 14th February the Principal did two sessions for the Faraday Institute in Cambridge on the subject of exoplanets, aliens and God. An afternoon with local Year 10 pupils was followed by a packed public lecture in the University and a dinner at Emmanuel College.

(15 Feb 2019)

Principal on Donald Tusk and Hell

On Sunday the Principal discussed Donald Tusk’s remark about there being a special place in Hell for those who promoted Brexit without a plan to carry it out safely in interviews with BBC Radio Devon, Lancashire, Bristol, Oxford, York London, Newcastle, Surrey/Sussex, Tees and Sheffield. He explored why the language of hell is still used and how Christians understand its place in the tradition and current belief.

(11 Feb 2019)

Physics postgraduate Miro Cafolla

One of Miro Cafolla's papers has been highlighted in SciLight, a prestigious divulgative journal edited by the American Institute of Physics (AIP):

(16 Jan 2019)

Rev Dr Jason Byassee joins us as a Visiting Fellow

Rev Dr Jason Byassee joins us as a Visiting Fellow until the end of July from Vancouver School of Theology. Jason studied at Davidson College, did his Master of Divinity at Duke Divinity School, and got a PhD in religion at Duke University. Find out more about him in this interview. 

(10 Jan 2019) » More about Rev Dr Jason Byassee joins us as a Visiting Fellow

The Revd Joel Edwards CBE

Visiting Fellow Joel Edwards has been awarded a CBE in the Queen's Honour list 2019 for services to tackling poverty and injustice. 

(9 Jan 2019)

New Appointment for Rt Revd Libby Lane

We are delighted at the news that Rt Revd Libby Lane has been appointed Bishop of Derby


The Principal of St John’s David Wilkinson comments, ‘We rejoice here at St John’s at Bishop Libby’s appointment. As one of our alumni and at present Chair of Cranmer Committee on College Council it is lovely to see this next phase of ministry. As a community we will be cheering and praying for her’.

(20 Dec 2018)

Principal on Songs of Praise

The Principal, David Wilkinson, will be on Songs of Praise Epiphany episode. It will be airing on Sunday 6th January at 13.15pm on BBC One and will be available to watch online here afterwards:

(20 Dec 2018)

Kenyans Visit Cranmer and John's

A party of four Kenyans from the diocese of Kapsabet visited college recently, re-establishing a link which was active in the 1990s. The party included Bishop Paul Korir and his wife Selline, Philip Mitei, a local headteacher and Canon Japheth Serem. It was a real joy for the college community host these visitors. They shared about life, ministry and mission in Kenya whilst sharing in college life and meeting many ordinands. The current Cranmer community includes people from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi.

(4 Dec 2018)

Principal on Soyuz and Cathedral

At the start of November, the Principal spoke at Peterborough Cathedral, which has been hosting Tim Peake’s Soyuz TMA-19M space capsule.

In this beautiful 900-year-old Cathedral, the spacecraft has been a vast visitor attraction. Before returning to the earth it endured temperatures of more than 1500 degrees Celsius and has travelled at 17000 miles an hour during its from the International Space Station.

The Principal spoke of the different religious responses of astronauts and cosmologists as they encountered the universe, and explored the question of ‘The Search for God – can science help’?

(14 Nov 2018)

Chapel with Royal connection open to visitors

St John's College was in the local news this week with a story covering the opening of the College Chapel to visitors. Our thanks to the volunteer stewards who make this possible. If you are interested in becoming a chapel steward please contact Liz Forbes at


(8 Nov 2018) » More about Chapel with Royal connection open to visitors

International Conference on Myth Criticism

The Principal gave a keynote address at the 5th International Conference on Myth Criticism which was on the topic of Modern AudioVisual Myths at the University of Complutense in Madrid.

He spoke on ‘Creation and Redemption in the Mythical World of Star Wars’.

(29 Oct 2018)

MCR publishes Postgraduate Wellbeing Handbook

The MCR (Middle Common Room) is publishing a brand-new Postgraduate Wellbeing Handbook. This collaborative effort between St John's and Ustinov College contains advice, submitted by students, for taking care of wellbeing and mental health while studying for a postgraduate degree. It also contains signposts to further sources of support and advice. Being a postgraduate comes with its challenges, but it is hoped this handbook will help to break the silence around postgraduate mental health and wellbeing, encouraging readers to care for themselves and one another in tangible, practical ways. 

(17 Oct 2018)

The Revd Deborah Hopkinson (née Robertson)

Revd Deborah Hopkinson (née Robertson) - The Wesley Study Centre (2000-2003)

It was with deep sadness that College received the news of Deborah’s death on 26 September 2018.

Deborah came to the WSC as a Foundation Training Student in 2000 and studied the MA in Theology and Ministry as part of her ministerial training. Her first appointment was in the Chesterfield Methodist Circuit. Our prayers are with Andy her husband and her three small children as well as with all of her family at this very sad time.

(10 Oct 2018)

Visiting Fellows in Residence

We will welcome two Residential Visiting Fellows for Michaelmas term at St John's College. The Fellows will be organising some interesting events throughout the term, more details on these to follow.

Ted Swartz will join us on Friday 28 September. Ted is the owner and artistic director of Ted and Company Theaterworks, a for profit theater company located in Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, specializing in comedic original works on subjects of faith, peace and justice, sexuality, diversity, mental illness and grief.

(27 Sep 2018) » More about Visiting Fellows in Residence

Physics Department Awards for Excellence

PhD Researcher Miro Cafolla has been awarded a Physics Department Award for Excellence 2018. The motivation for the award reads: “For his outstanding commitment to teaching demonstrated through his exemplary approach to helping students understand complicated concepts in the Advanced Physics workshops over the past three years.” 

(26 Sep 2018) » More about Physics Department Awards for Excellence

Appointment of Assistant Senior Tutor (maternity cover)

St John’s College is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Rebecca Hasler as Assistant Senior Tutor (maternity cover) for the period September 2018 – August 2019.

Rebecca first came to Durham as an undergraduate in 2010. During her time studying English Literature at Trevelyan, she fell in love with the city and the colleges, and stayed on to do her MA at Ustinov.

She then went on to complete a PhD at the University of St Andrews. Her research explored Elizabethan print culture, with a focus on satire, genre, and news reporting. During her PhD, she gained experience in teaching undergraduates at St Andrews and Dundee and became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is passionate about working with students to offer pastoral support and to help provide the best possible university experience.

(10 Aug 2018) » More about Appointment of Assistant Senior Tutor (maternity cover)

Video about St Mary the Less

Have you ever visited the Chapel of St Mary the Less? We're extremely fortunate that this beautiful little chapel on the Bailey is part of St John's College. If you've ever walked past and wondered what's inside, or been inside and wondered about its history, you can watch our brand new video to find out more.

St Mary the Less will be open to the public during term time on Mondays to Fridays between Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. We also look forward to welcoming visitors as part of Heritage Open Days (6th-9th and 13th-16th September 2018). Further stewarded open days throughout the year are to be announced.

(20 Jul 2018)

Bishop of Europe to lead St John’s College Council

St John’s College, Durham has appointed the The Right Reverend Dr Robert Innes as the next Chair of College Council. St John’s College is a recognised college of Durham University and home to the theological college Cranmer Hall, which trains ordinands for the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion. As Chair of College Council, Bishop Robert will take up office in December.

The Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Principal, comments: “We are delighted that Bishop Robert has accepted the position and we look forward to welcoming him back to Durham. He brings a breadth of experience and continues our tradition of having a bishop as chair of our governance board.”


(3 Jul 2018) » More about Bishop of Europe to lead St John’s College Council

Peter Wake

We are sad to announce the death of Pete Wake, who was admitted to Kingston Hospital on the 14th June with pneumonia and complications. After his long and brave fight he died on Thursday at 11.30pm. 

Over a decade ago Pete was found in Durham city with severe brain trauma. At the time he was a third year historian at Johns. Since then, with the amazing care and support of his mum and dad, Phil and Anne, his brother Chris and a wide network of family and friends Pete showed unique courage and love of life to battle his disabilities and illness.

In recognition of this remarkable person the University awarded his history degree and the John’s Boat Club named one of our boats in his honour. Indeed it was only recently at the Head of the River that the boat was named in the presence of Pete and his family.

(27 Jun 2018)

2018 Nanoscale Hot Article Collection

Clodomiro Cafolla has been published in a prestigious science journal. Clodomiro is currently based in the Physics Department and is the first author of 'Lubricating properties of single metal ions at interfaces', which has been published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and included in the 2018 Nanoscale Hot Article Collection.

Read the article in the journal here:

Clodomiro has been at St John's since 2012.

(21 Jun 2018)

SCR member receives Chancellor's Medal

Warmest congratulations to Dr Margaret Harvey, a long-standing member of the Senior Common Room of St John's College, who is one of three recipients this year of the Chancellor's Medal, presented at the Celebrating Excellence Dinner in the Great Hall of the Castle on 30 April 2018. Chancellor's Medals are awarded to former members of academic staff whose achievements in and around Durham are such that they have earned this prestigious honour.


Dr Harvey, who frequently attends the Wednesday SCR buffet lunch in St John's, is an Honorary Fellow (Late Medieval History) in the University of Durham's Department of History and a member of the University's Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Among her publications is Lay Religious Life in Late Medieval Durham (Boydell Press, 2006), described by one reviewer as a 'meticulously researched and detailed book'. She is currently working with Dr Lynda Rollason on a new edition of The Rites of Durham, which describes aspects of the late medieval monastery at Durham.

(3 May 2018)

Allchurches Trust thanked at Chancellor's Circle Dinner

Last night Peter Mojsa from the Allchurches Trust received the Chancellor’s Medal from Sir Thomas Allen, Durham University Chancellor at a dinner at the British Library. The dinner was held to thank principal donors. Allchurches is supporting the construction of St John’s College new Learning Resource Centre. The presentation of a medal and certificate to the Allchurches Trust is in recognition and thanks for their support towards the LRC. 

(26 Apr 2018)

Student success

Seven St John's students presented at the Josephine Butler Research Forum last week on topics ranging from machine learning to the God of contemporary British worship. The multi-disciplinary forum was spread over two days and showcased both undergraduate and postgraduate speakers from Colleges and Departments across the University.

Many congratulations to all Johnians who presented their research at the event, especially to Joseph Bullock and Alexander Hibberts who won awards for their contributions. Joseph (pictured, below) won the long presentation award with his talk 'Hey Google: Show Me a Llama'. Alexander (pictured, above) gave a talk on 'English Cathedral Architecture, 1660-1669', which earned him the short presentation award. This is a wonderful achievement.

Speaking on his experience, Alex said, "it was a great experience to be exposed to research from a range of disciplines across the university and meet like-minded individuals with whom I could share my own ideas."

(24 Apr 2018)

HRH The Prince of Wales to visit St John's

We are delighted to announce the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales on Thursday 15 February. While Prince Charles is coming to visit Durham Cathedral and the University he has asked especially to come and visit St John’s College. This is to reflect how highly Cranmer Hall is viewed nationally but also to unveil a new blue plaque on Bowes House which commemorates Dame Elizabeth Bowes his 7 times great grandmother. Elizabeth Bowes is buried in our College Chapel and was a pioneer and entrepreneur in the coal mining industry of the North-East.

(6 Feb 2018) » More about HRH The Prince of Wales to visit St John's

Cranmer Hall Diamond Jubilee!

October 2018 sees the 60th anniversary of the founding of Cranmer Hall as part of St John’s College Durham.

To launch a year of special events we are having a Diamond Jubilee Service at Durham Cathedral on Saturday 29 September 2018 at 11am, followed by a Celebration Buffet Lunch in College.

All Cranmer Hall alumni and friends are warmly invited and it promises to be a wonderful occasion to thank God for his many blessings and meet up with those who have been part of the special story of Cranmer Hall, Durham. 

Please save the date in your diaries and watch out for more details in the New Year.

(31 Oct 2017) » More about Cranmer Hall Diamond Jubilee!

David Wilkinson comments on the value of BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day

David Wilkinson comments on the value of BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day in the Radio Times.

Read what he has to say here: 

(31 Oct 2017)

Local Giving

This year in John's our focus is on the positive impact we may have on the community. Led primarily by the student run St John's Common Room, several Community Outreach projects will be launched in the coming weeks, aiming to aid those is local schools and offer support to a local charity 'RT Projects', which in turns seeks to offer refuge to those coping with mental health issues. It is important that as members of the St John's community we recognise the relatively privileged position in which we find ourselves and the responsibly which this carries. St John's students have the opportunity to really affect the lives of those in the local community - be that offering exam advice to Sixth Form students or engaging with arts and crafts classes. The impact of even the smallest amount of volunteering should not be underestimated. 

While the Community Outreach scheme is in its infancy at the moment, we are looking to expand our reach so to help numerous sectors in society. However, as it is a volunteering project, it is unlikely that it will be able sustain its self and therefore we look to our Alumni and friends and any financial support which they may be able to offer. 

As you are most likely aware, we are also still in the process of raising funds for the new Learning Resource Centre. This project is in an exciting stage as number 17 South Bailey has been demolished and archaeologists are currently excavating the site before the building commences. We are still short of our target for this project and would gratefully receive any further donations. Of course, the generosity already given to this project has been outstanding so we understand that many may not be able to sacrifice any more.

In order to facilitate any contributions you may be kindly willing to offer, we have set up a 'local giving' page.  All donations will help support both of these ongoing projects, and any contribution you would be able to make would be very much appreciated.

(30 Oct 2017)

The Principal on Eschatology

The Principal contributes essay to new book on Eschatology. 

The essay is called:

The Accelerating Universe and New Creation: Christian eschatology in the face of scientific futility

It is published in 'Game Over? Reconsidering Eschatology'.

(7 Sep 2017) » More about The Principal on Eschatology

The Principal is captured by the Dark Side!

At a talk in Newcastle recently that the Principal gave on the spirituality of the Star Wars movies, he found some interesting members of the audience, as pictured. The talk was called 'The
Power of the Force: The Spirituality of the Star Wars Films'.

(8 Aug 2017)

SJCBC Boat Naming

St John's College Boat Club held a boat naming ceremony at the Durham Regatta to name the new VIII after Mally Yates. Mally Yates was the first female tutor in the College, when St John's became mixed.

(27 Jun 2017)

Cranmer Hall now offers MA in Digital Theology

Cranmer Hall, the theological training centre within St John’s College, hosts a unique suite of Master’s-level programmes in theology for ministry. In partnership with CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology we are pleased to offer the world’s first MA in Digital Theology, exploring the impact of digital culture on religious practice and thinking. We also offer an MA in Consultancy for Mission and Ministry, training those with experience of Christian ministry to provide relevant, high quality consultancy for church work and church workers across a range of areas and approaches to the church’s mission and ministry. Both of these MA courses build on the strengths of our long-established MA in Theology, Ministry, and Mission, which continues to equip lay and ordained Christians to play a leading role in the development of Christian mission and ministry in the UK and internationally as practitioners, educators and enablers of the whole people of God. Each of these courses can also be a route into the professional Doctorate in Theology and Ministry (DThM), delivered in partnership between St John’s College and the Department of Theology and Religion, and offering opportunity for extended research on an area of theology as it relates to the practice of faith.

(26 Jun 2017)

Visiting Fellows awarded by Archbishop of Canterbury

We are delighted that on 9th June two Visiting Fellows at St John’s were given awards by another John’s alumnus, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anne Harrison, pictured here received The Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship - For her sustained and outstanding contribution to music in worship.

Visiting Fellow Sir Andreas Whittam Smith, received The Canterbury Cross for Services to the Church of England  - For his outstanding contribution as First Estates Commissioner of the Church of England.

(15 Jun 2017) » More about Visiting Fellows awarded by Archbishop of Canterbury

CK Barrett Centenary Conference

Charles Kingsley Barrett FBA was born on 4 May 1917 and became one of the greatest British biblical scholars of the 20th century. He served as Professor of Divinity at Durham University for 24 years and wrote commentaries on the Acts of the Apostles, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians.

To mark the Centenary of his birth and a new volume of his and his father’s sermons, we hosted a one-day conference in College which included a lecture by Dr Ben Witherington III on C K Barrett as a preacher and the launch of the book.

(13 Jun 2017) » More about CK Barrett Centenary Conference

Professor Pete Ward on One Love in Church Times

Was One Love Manchester an answer to the Thy Kingdom Come wave of prayer, asks Professor Pete Ward, Professorial Fellow in Ecclesiology and Ethnography in the Department of Theology and Religion.

Pete's article in the Church Times can be read in full here.

(13 Jun 2017)

Principal discusses the limits of mankind on BBC Radio

On Sunday the Principal, Revd Professor David Wilkinson, took part in a 30 minute discussion on BBC Radio Ulster on "Has mankind reached the height of sophistication – morally, intellectually and spiritually – or is it going backwards?"

He was joined by Professors Tina Beattie and John Brewer.

(8 May 2017)

St John's hosts strategic world leading conference on robotics and artificial intelligence

Last week the College's project funded by the Templeton World Charitable Foundation, 'Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science' hosted over 40 senior church leaders, scientists and theologians exploring the theme of 'What does it mean to be human' in the light of advances in robotics, artificial intelligence and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

(10 Jan 2017) » More about St John's hosts strategic world leading conference on robotics and artificial intelligence

Dr Calvin Samuel appointed Principal of London School of Theology

St John's College is delighted to announce that our Academic Dean & WSC Director, Calvin Samuel, has been appointed to be the next Principal of London School of Theology.

Calvin has been part of the College community since 2010, initially as Director of the Wesley Study Centre and latterly as Academic Dean. Under Calvin's oversight recent initiatives such as the Free Church Track and our innovative partnership with Northern Baptist College for the training of Baptist Ministers have come to fruition and we have seen growth in the number of Cranmer Undergraduates who have joined the College community.

Calvin has been an outstanding colleague and good friend over the last 6 years and whilst we will be sad to lose him we are also thrilled at this new appointment for his life and ministry.


(10 Oct 2016)

Leading thinkers in science and technology contribute to new book

Written for general readers of all religious backgrounds, Reason and Wondera new book published by SPCK, introduces some of the most fruitful discussions now taking place between leading thinkers in science and theology. As Professor Priest writes in his Preface: ‘In this integrated approach, the notion of science as a monolithic concept is shattered. Instead, the sciences and humanities represent a rainbow tapestry, linked by a common search for understanding, using reason and imagination.’

(5 Sep 2016) » More about Leading thinkers in science and technology contribute to new book

Aegrotat degree for Pete Wake

In the autumn term, a special ceremony was held at Kings School in Wimbledon. Pete Wake experienced head injuries in Durham City during the time that he was a third year undergraduate at St Johns. A top historian and outstanding rower, Pete's academic and sporting career was cut short. However on the basis of his work up to this point, the University took the unusual step of awarding him an Aegrotat Degree. It was conferred in his absence in summer 2015 but the Principal led a ceremony in Pete's old school close to the hospital that he now resides in. Pete's father Phil, his mother Anne and brother Chris were joined by a large group of family and friends in this celebration of his achievements.

You can visit the Pete Wake Trust website here

(22 Dec 2015)

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.