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Durham University

St John's College



Book Launch

Join David Wilkinson together with David Hutchings as they launch their new book ‘God, Stephen Hawking and the Multiverse’ at St John’s College on Tuesday 11th February, 18:00-18:55. The book is an update and complete rewrite of the earlier ‘God, the Big Bang and Stephen Hawking’. There will be discounted copies available for purchase.

Find our more about the book, or purchase online here

(23 Jan 2020)

St John’s College secures £3.4m to explore Christianity and science

St John’s College has been awarded £3.4 million to help Christian leaders engage with the latest scientific developments and ideas shaping society. 

The major new grant, from the Templeton Religion Trust, will fund a new, expanded three-year phase of the successful Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science (ECLAS) project led by the Principal, Rev Professor David Wilkinson.

The work will have five areas of focus:

  • Academic research into how Christian churches best engage with science;
  • Conferences for senior church leaders and clergy on cutting-edge scientific issues;
  • A Scientists in Congregations initiative, to support professional scientists in helping churches engage with science – particularly focusing on Cathedrals and larger churches to pioneer projects that can be replicated by other churches;
  • A Science for Seminaries programme, to support and encourage science-engaged theology in UK theology colleges and courses; and
  • Policy and communications work, with the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Church of England.

The Principal comments: “Receiving this grant is wonderful news. Science is all around us and influences so much of how we think and act as a society, whether we consider ourselves scientific or not. It’s crucial that Christians engage with the latest scientific developments and ideas, so that we as churches understand how society is thinking and changing, and indeed we can understand more of God. Such an award to St John’s shows our international standing as part of Durham University”

(17 Jan 2020) » More about St John’s College secures £3.4m to explore Christianity and science

Archbishop awarded Honorary Doctorate of Divinity

Congratulations Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Doctor of Divinity

During winter congregation 2020, over 1500 of our students will graduate at ceremonies in Durham Cathedral. We will be joined by family and friends to celebrate their hard work and inspiring achievements, and to wish them well in their future endeavours.

We also award honorary degrees to inspiring individuals, who are nominated by our colleagues, in recognition of their long and exemplary service of national and international acclaim.

This year, we awarded the Archbishop of York an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity, in recognition of his service to the Church of England and for the support and encouragement he offers our students and to St John’s College.

(9 Jan 2020) » More about Archbishop awarded Honorary Doctorate of Divinity

Called to Serve on BBC Radio 4

On Sunday 24th November the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship programme was broadcast live from St John's College Chapel. The service 'Called to serve' was led by Warden of Cranmer Hall, the Revd Dr Philip Plyming and featured music from the Chapel Choir of St John’s College’. Two ordinands from Cranmer Hall spoke about their calling and the Revd Emma Parker preached. If you missed the programme you can listen to it here

The Principal David Wilkinson comments:

"I was delighted to catch up on BBC Sounds with the Sunday Service on Radio 4. I was at conference in San Diego at the time and I was so proud of the quality of what I heard.

Thank you to all who took part in the service – in words, testimony, sermon and music. It was quite brilliant and reminded me of what quality we have to offer in College to a wider context.

We are a College that is called to serve."

(25 Nov 2019)

Johnian publishes new book in German

HarperCollins Germany has published “Schwein gehabt, sagt die Liebe” by Sabrina Sonntag. The book is about a young woman, critical of factory farming, cruelty to animals and environmental pollution, who tries to save an animal friendly guest house from being sold and in the meantime falls in love with a man who has a pet pig. Sabrina was an Erasmus student at St John’s from 2014 -15 and is currently doing a Masters of Research in Modern Languages.

(13 Nov 2019)

Prisons Week

Following the Symposium to mark Prisons Week hosted by the Dean at the Cathedral, the speakers Lord Bradbury, Mike Barton former Chief Constable , Gabrielle Lee Governor of HMP Low Newton along with prison chaplains were guests of the Principal for lunch.

(21 Oct 2019)

A podcast conversation with the Principal

The Principal David Wilkinson has recently featured in a theology podcast named Homebrewed Christianity. Topics in the episode range from awe, evil and piety to the laws of physics and extraterrestrial life.

You can listen to the podcast here.

(6 Sep 2019)

Space: God, the Universe and Everything at Lichfield Cathedral

The Principal was delighted to be invited to take part in Lichfield Cathedral’s The Great Exhibition 2019 Space: God, the Universe and Everything – a stunning visual spectacle inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. 

Professor Wilkinson gave one of the opening lectures to a packed hall and then went into the Cathedral to see the exhibition. He comments: ‘One of the most beautiful exhibitions that I have seen – imaginative and awe inspiring. The Cathedral makes a wonderful and ideal space for exploring science, art and faith.’

Very Revd Adrian Dorber, the Dean of Lichfield, is a John’s alumnus.

The Principal will return to Lichfield on the 24th September to take part in a lecture series on science and religion.

(12 Aug 2019)

Merchandise Available Online

The St John's College merchandise collection is now available to purchase online via the Durham University Shop. Items are purchased online and delivered to your desired address. In addition to our classic items such as scarves, pins, cufflinks and mugs, we have recently expanded the collection to include teddy bears, pens and umbrellas.

Click here to view the merchandise.

(2 Jul 2019)

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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!

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.