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St John's College


Alumni - join us for drinks in London!

We're meeting on Thursday 25h January from 6.30pm at the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall. First drink and nibbles on us! RSVP to

Helping the homeless in Durham

This December members of our Catering Department teamed up with the St John's SCA (Student Community Action) Representative to collect donations for the Shoebox Appeal for the Homeless. Over 35 boxes were filled with warm clothes, blankets, toiletries, food and more. Thank you to all who generously donated items and special thanks to Christine Davison, Nicky Seal and Joanne Brown in Catering. It is wonderful to see the St John's community work together to help those in need.

Joanne, Nicky and Christine pictured with the shoeboxes.

Regatta Blue Club

For many years, St Johns College Boat Club has held a special place in the hearts of many students who’ve been at the college. It’s forged some of the strongest friendships as well as causing some of the greatest physical pain experienced by many of us in our sporting careers. We take great pride in our status as the current leader of intercollegiate competitions, and our thriving squads who are setting their sights on national level competition. Over the past few years the Regatta Blue Club, our alumni association, has grown from nothing to over 60 members, and we’re always looking to find more! The RBC will be hosting events in London as well as in Durham over the next year and we hope to be joined by many of you. If you would like to keep in touch with SJCBC’s success, join us at any of our events, or take part in any of alumni races – sign up the Regatta Blue Club using this link

By becoming a member of the newly formed Regatta Blue Club you would receive the following benefits;

  • A regular newsletter keeping you up-to-date with our achievements
  • Invitations to all alumni events, includes Durham Regatta event (which is a great excuse to revisit Durham and meet old friends), and the Head of the River event hosted in London in March.
  • Opportunities to have an outing in one of our boats (doubles, pairs or IV’s).

Our College is the second smallest in Durham, yet our Boat Club is one of the biggest. This represents a beautiful passion and pedigree for rowing within our community. We hope that you will accept this invitation so that you can be a part of something which is very special to us.

This is completely free to any past member of St John’s College Boat Club regardless of whether you were a rower, cox or social member. If you are interested in becoming a member then please send your full name, email address and year of graduation to

We also have a facebook page which we will be keeping up-to-date with up and coming events.

Learning Resource Centre Update

Following the demolition of no 17, archaeologists from Durham University Archaeological Services have now started recording and excavating the historic walls and plot on which the new Learning Resource Centre will be built. The tender for the main construction contract has gone out and we expect building to start on the site in January 2018 with completion a year later. We passed the £3 million milestone on our fundraising campaign over the summer with a generous pledge from the Kirkby Laing Foundation. We are very grateful to all our donors. Collectively this is a huge achievement. We’ve still a million to go and a year in which to do it. Thank you.

For more information on this project, please contact our alumni team at


Help with a Major Research Project

A research group led by the Principal are currently reviewing the attitudes of church leaders towards science. We currently have over 900 responses but need a few more. If you are a church leader from any denomination (and you could be lay or ordained) we would be delighted if you could fill in the on-line survey – click on the link below. You do not need to know anything about science! 

(15 Dec 2017)

Visiting Fellow publishes new book for Lent

One of our College Visiting Fellows, Alan Bartlett, has written a new book for Lent.

In 47 daily Lenten reflections on readings from Luke’s Gospel, beginning on Ash Wednesday, Alan Bartlett examines how we see Jesus.

(15 Dec 2017)

Professor Thomas Vogt

We look forward to welcoming IAS Fellow, Professor Thomas Vogt to St John’s College - January - March 2018.

 Thomas Vogt is Director of the Nano Center, an Educational Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and adjunct faculty in the Department of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. After receiving a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Tübingen in Germany in 1987 he worked as a scientist at the Institute Laue-Langevin in Grenoble France from 1988-1992 and Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1995-2005. Since 2005 he is at the University of South Carolina. In his research he has developed and used neutron, x-ray and electron diffraction and imaging techniques to explore structure-property relationships in materials. He is also interested in philosophical, ethical and societal implications of science and technology in particular problems relating to the emergence of chemical concepts. Structural concepts such as chemical bonds, bond valence and electronegativity which emerge in condensed matter are important issues in the philosophy of chemistry. Professor Vogt is author of more than 300 peer reviewed papers and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Over the past decade he has explored structures of complex materials using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). This work was recognized by a highly competitive seed grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative. An important emphasis in this work is the development of new methodologies in theoretical image simulation and modelling such as super-resolution techniques, special de-noising methods, the application of mathematical and statistical learning theory, and compressed sensing and is summarized in a recently published book entitled “Modelling Nanoscale Imaging in Electron Microscopy”. This book was the result of three annual interdisciplinary meetings involving electron microscopy specialists, mathematicians, physicists and philosophers.

Periodic structures have been imaged using high-resolution electron microscopy for over half a century but interfaces, surfaces, interstitials and defects, which are of fundamental importance for a material’s properties were difficult to characterize. Aberration-corrected STEM is currently changing this and revolutionizing imaging at the nanoscale.

A recent collaboration with Dr Ivana Evans (Department of Chemistry, Durham University) set out to determine the detailed structure of a high-temperature ionic conductor using STEM imaging and compare it to the average structure obtained from high-resolution synchrotron x-ray and neutron scattering. Particular challenges arise from the disorder and small number of interstitials. Direct imaging of such defect structures is unprecedented, and the results will appear in a publication in the near future.

While imaging materials in real space is intuitively appealing to many structural scientists there are pitfalls we need to be aware of. In particular we need to be very mindful of our tendency to “image and imagine structure” which is well documented in the cognitive sciences. Recognizing structure, shape and form is one of the earliest tasks our brain excels at. Solid state chemistry, condensed matter physics and materials science are areas where “pictures” play an important, sometimes heuristic role. It is therefore vital to develop an iconoclastic culture as “the human mind gives way reluctantly when empirical observations curtail perceptual preference” (Anonymous).

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Why We Seek Structure at the Atomic Level

15th February 2018, 17:30 to 18:30, St John's College


The concept of atomic structure and structure-property correlations are central to chemistry. However, the arduous and contorted historical paths from ancient atomism to our current paradigm of structure at the atomic level reveals philosophical and scientific projects where atomism was used with little or no experimental basis. Current structural language at the atomic scale was created by scientific revolutions as new paradigms emerged often driven by the development of new experimental techniques and periods during which paradigms were created and conserved with weak or no experimental evidence. Professor Thomas Vogt will discuss examples from the history of chemistry of both explanatory modes and argue for a scientific pragmatism and pluralism.

This lecture is free and open to all.

(23 Nov 2017)

Appointment of new Senior Tutor

 St John’s College is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Rebecca Bouveng as its new Senior Tutor.


She originally came to Durham from Sweden as an undergraduate at St John’s, to study for a BA in Russian and Politics. Her PhD in politics, in the field of international relations explored narratives of messianism in Russian statecraft, geopolitics and identity.


Throughout her PhD studies she was engaged in grassroots community development, working with asylum seekers and refugees, and children and young people in socially deprived areas of the North East.


In 2013 she joined the management team of the postgraduate only Ustinov College as Assistant Principal (College Life), taking on responsibility for student support provision including complex welfare cases and the mentor system, and developing the Ustinov Global Citizenship Programme, which forms the umbrella for academic and personal development initiatives in College. Rebecca has a strong interest in student-led learning, social justice and critical approaches to global citizenship education. Over the past year and a half she has been involved in the development of global citizenship initiatives at university and international level within the Matariki Network of Universities and the emerging Matariki Global Citizenship Programme.

The Principal, Revd Professor David Wilkinson, comments:


‘We feel very fortunate to appoint someone of Rebecca’s experience and academic standing. She knows the College well but will also bring much experience from outside of the College.’


Rebecca comments:


‘I am delighted to join St John’s – the friendliest and most welcoming of all Durham’s colleges – as Senior Tutor and look forward very much to working closely with students and staff in this exciting chapter of the College’s history.’


If you would like to welcome Rebecca then you can contact her on

(13 Nov 2017)

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.

Philip Plyming and David Wilkinson

Warden, Cranmer Hall and Principal, St John’s College

(31 Oct 2017)

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)

Borderlands 2017

On the evening of Wednesday 25th October over 200 members and friends of the St John's community gathered in a packed lecture room to hear the Honorable Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb speak on remorse and the criminal justice system. The lecture was titled “What’s done cannot be undone” (Macbeth V. ii. 74).

You can read the transcript of the lecture here:

The Principal comments:

'It was great to see a full lecture room last night for our annual Borderlands Lecture. Our speaker weaved in a wide range of subject areas into exploring her central theme of ‘remorse’ – it was brilliantly done and a great model of what a Durham education is all about.'

What did Frankenstein, Raskolnikov and Judas have in common? The lecture considered the nature of remorse and discussed its significance in the criminal justice system, in particular the role of judges who have to assess the authenticity of expressed remorse when sentencing offenders. The influence of remorse in transitional and restorative justice was also explored. It was suggested that the relative lack of research about the impact of remorse on such important topics as recidivism rates (and how quickly criminals re-offend) should be addressed.

(26 Oct 2017)

Café Scientifique

We were delighted to welcome Professor Stewart Clark of the Physics Department to our first Café Scientifique of the year. He took us through the strange world of quantum theory (and a little bit of relativity as well). The Tristram Room was packed out with students from all different subject areas.

It was brilliantly arranged and chaired by Miro Cafolla one of our postgrad physicists.

The Principal

(20 Oct 2017)

Introducing Richard Everett, Visiting Fellow

The Visiting Fellow in residence at College for Michaelmas term is Richard Everett. Richard arrived in College on 9th October and he will be with here all term with the exception of a couple of weeks in November.

Richard Everett was educated at Mill Hill School and began his career as a professional actor in 1970 appearing on TV, London’s West End stage, and New York’s Broadway. He also appeared in many films including the 70’s cult classic Lindsay Anderson’s “If …” starring Malcolm McDowell, “Cry of The Banshee” starring Vincent Price, and “Hamlet” directed by Tony Richardson, starring Anthony Hopkins, Marianne Faithful and Nicol Williamson.

In the late 70’s he formed his own fringe theatre company, and with a group of fellow actors converted an empty church hall into the highly successful Upstream Theatre near London’s South Bank and The Old Vic. He was Artistic Director there for 3 years.

In the 80’s Richard turned to writing. He is the author of 8 produced stage plays including Happy Event, Close To The Wind, Hand Over Fist and Present From The Past which have been published, translated into several languages, and are regularly performed in the UK and abroad. His play Demons had its world premiere recently in Heidelberg and Entertaining Angels, starring Penelope Keith, opened the Chichester Festival Theatre Season in 2006 playing to a record breaking 26,000 people in 4 weeks. The play subsequently toured the UK and is now performed by amateurs and professionals all over the world including most recently, New Zealand, South Africa and Israel. It is published by Oberon Books.

Richard has also written extensively for animation with over 200 scripts to his credit. Among them are the BAFTA nominated ‘Joseph’ for the Testament series, Dig, Dug and Daisy a series he created for Dorling Kindersley, Nellie The Elephant, The Mr Men Christmas Special, Timbuctoo and Busy Buses. He also wrote the screenplay for the animation feature Under The Black Flag which premiered in Berlin.

In 2002 his first feature film Two Men Went To War, directed by John Henderson and starring Kenneth Cranham, Derek Jacobi, Leo Bill, James Fleet, Julian Glover, and Phyllida Law, went on UK general release. He developed the project over nine years with actor Chris Villiers and was Associate Producer as well as screenwriter. The movie was in the official selection for the Hollywood Film Festival and was released in New York and across the USA. It is regularly screened as a BBC feature movie.

In 2014 Sound Bites, Richard’s first book of collected short works was published. An anthology of mini plays, monologues and meditations for seasonal events, it received the Jerusalem Trust Award at BAFTA for the series ‘Sound Bites in Advent’ broadcast by the BBC. It is published by Monarch Books (Lion Hudson), available on Amazon and proving immensely popular with schools, church and youth groups in the UK and the USA. The scripts are currently in development as a collection of short films.

He has also written three plays for BBC Radio 4 – A Little Behind On The Video, Something To Say, and Grace And Favour.

Richard also runs a weekly drama workshop for special needs adults at the L’Arche Community and for The Meath Epilepsy Trust in Godalming He has been a popular speaker at numerous conferences and events performing extracts from Sound Bites and speaking on ‘The Writer’s Journey’, exploring the relationship between work, faith and creativity.

Richard’s literary work is represented by:

•Rachel Taylor, Casarotto Ramsay Associates

Richard is also an experienced Voice Over Artist.

His work is represented by:

•Alex Lynch-White, Telly Voices

(10 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'.

Modern science informs us about the end of the universe: "game over" is the

message which lies ahead of our world. Christian theology, on the other hand,

sees in the end not the cessation of all life, but rather an invitation to play again,

in God's presence. Is there a way to articulate together such vastly different


Eschatology is a theological topic which merits being considered from several

different angles. This book seeks to do this by gathering contributions from

esteemed and fresh voices from the fields of biblical exegesis, history,

systematic theology, philosophy, and ethics.

How can we make sense, today, of Jesus' (and the New Testament's)

eschatological message? How did he, his early disciples, and the Christian

tradition, envision the "end" of the world? Is there a way for us to articulate

together what modern science tells us about the end of the universe with the

biblical and Christian claims about God who judges and who will wipe every


Eschatology has been at the heart of Christian theology for 100 years in the

West. What should we do with this legacy? Are there ways to move our

reflection forward, in our century? Scholars and other interested readers will

find here a wealth of insights.

Christophe Chalamet, Andreas Dettwiler, Mariel Mazzocco and Ghislain Waterlot, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

(7 Sep 2017)

Celebrating the success of St John's alumni

One of John’s former students, Charlotte Hurst, has won an award for Young Plant Scientist of the year for her PhD research in Dundee.

(9 Aug 2017)

Read about our new MA in Digital Theology in the Times Higher Ed

The Times Higher Education has recently published an article discussing the new MA in Digital Theology, which is being offered by Cranmer Hall for the first time this year. The MA is also a world first in this subject area.

(26 Jul 2017)

John's Eagles

Our careers network is still in its infancy, yet we already have over 60 ‘Eagles’ who have volunteered to mentor or offer advice to current or recent John’s students in their specialised area. If you are interested in becoming an Eagle, we would be delighted to talk to you. Find out more

St John's College Merchandise

Please keep in mind that St John’s College Merchandise is available to purchase. If you would like to treat someone (or yourself!) with a little reminder of College then we have ties, scarves, cufflinks, thermal mugs and more if you contact St John’s Boat Club has also prepared a catalogue of their memorabilia and promotional items which are available to purchase, all proceeds will go back into the Club. Find out more

Summer Reunion & 5 Years Reunion

We have had a range of exciting events for our Alumni throughout the year, the largest of which was the ‘Summer Reunion’. This was held in College from the 1st to 3rd of September 2017 and was the first ‘All Years’ reunion in recent memory. Our traditional ‘5 Years On’ Reunion took place on 15th – 17th September 2017, hosted by James Lake. It was great to see so many of our alumni returning to College to share memories of their time at John’s. To find out more about reunions and other upcoming events please email us at or check out this link for booking forms.

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.