St John's College, Durham

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St John's College
St Johns, Durham.svg
University Durham University
Location Durham City
Coordinates 54°46′19″N 1°34′33″W / 54.7718825°N 1.5757305°W / 54.7718825; -1.5757305Coordinates: 54°46′19″N 1°34′33″W / 54.7718825°N 1.5757305°W / 54.7718825; -1.5757305
Motto Fides nostra victoria
Motto in English Our faith is our victory
Established 1909
Named for St John the Evangelist
Principal Revd Professor David Wilkinson
Undergraduates 392
Postgraduates 160
Senior tutor Dr Mark Ogden
Mascot Olav II
St John's College, Durham is located in Durham
St John's College, Durham
Location within Durham

St John's College is a college of the University of Durham, United Kingdom. It is one of only two 'Recognised Colleges' of the University, the other being St Chad's. This means that it is financially and constitutionally independent of the University and has a greater degree of administrative independence than the other, 'Maintained', colleges. However, in order to maintain its status as a Recognised college, the University Council must approve the appointment of its Principal and be notified of changes to its constitution.[1]

St John's is Durham's second smallest college, and comprises John's Hall for undergraduate and postgraduate students studying any University course and Cranmer Hall (named after Thomas Cranmer and with its own master or Warden), an Anglican theological college in the open evangelical tradition. The Methodist Wesley Study Centre, named after John Wesley, is also based within Cranmer Hall, despite not technically being part of the college.

The college's Chapel Choir, has flourished in recent years thanks to the college's commitment to supporting Choral Scholarships.


Formed from a number of Georgian houses on the Bailey between Durham Cathedral and the River Wear, the college's setting is spectacular. The main house is Haughton House, named after Haughton Castle, the seat of the family of William Donaldson Cruddas who were early benefactors of the College and other Christian churches and charities in the North East of England.[2][3] The houses which make up Cranmer Hall were once owned by the Bowes-Lyon family (the late Queen Mother's family). The majority of the college buildings are grade II listed, with parts of 3 and 4 South Bailey grade II* listed.[4] Before coming into the possession of St John's, Linton House, no 1 South Bailey, was the main property of St. Chad's College. It is said to have much earlier origins, with the frontage seen today added to an existing timber framed building after the Restoration of the Monarchy.[citation needed]

No 2 South Bailey has distinctive circular 'blind' windows which were revealed during a re-rendering in the 1980s, and enabled Martin Roberts, then Durham City's Conservation Officer, to date the building very precisely to the late 17th century.

The illogically interconnected nature of many of the college buildings regularly results in visitors becoming quite lost. The similarly bizarre nature of college stairways, one of which surprises the unwary by disappearing into a solid wall, adds an element of Escher to the architecture.

The college chapel, dedicated to St Mary, and known as St Mary the Less, is of Norman origin and was rebuilt in the 1840s, and was re-ordered at the turn of the 21st century. It became the college chapel in 1919,[5] before which it had been the parish church of the South Bailey. It is still a chapel of ease in the Parish of St Oswald.[6] The chapel is also used by the local Greek Orthodox congregation in Durham.


Founded as a Church of England theological college in 1909, it became a full constituent college of the University in 1919. In 1958 it was divided into the theological college Cranmer Hall, and the non-theological John's Hall. The Halls have always held to a broadly evangelical tradition.

St John's was the first Church of England Theological College to have both a lay person and a woman as Principal, Dr Ruth Etchells.[7]

The College has an advowson (a right to appoint a clergyman or clergywoman to a parish) over four benefices: Chester-le-Street, and Stranton in the Diocese of Durham and jointly with other avowees the benefices of Doddington with Benwick and Wimblington, and St Mark with St Paul, Darlington. Previously, the Patron had complete power to appoint the new priest, however today that power is exercised jointly with the local bishop and parish.

Student life[edit]

Owing to its small population, Johnians tend to know one another regardless of year, course, or accommodation (all first years and the majority of finalists live in college, with the second years required to find their own accommodation). Elected Freshers Reps are generally well known throughout college thereby giving new Johnians more opportunities for one-on-one interaction, providing a more solid foundation in their first few weeks than in the larger colleges.

St John's participates in a number of sports such as Cross Country Running, Mixed Lacrosse, Rowing, Men's Football, Badminton, Hockey and Rugby among others. St John's College Boat Club was founded in 1910 and operates out of two boathouses on the River Wear. It also contributes to university theatre, with the Bailey Theatre Company producing Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis in the Epiphany term of 2009 and Arthur Miller's The Crucible in the Michaelmas term of 2008, as well as the annual Summer Shakespeare. This involves an outdoor performance on Library Lawn. 2008's performance of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus won the Durham Student Theatre Award for Best Play.[citation needed]

John's Music Society, founded in 2012, is the governing body for music within college. It regularly puts on large-scale concerts and helps students set up new musical ensembles, as well as organising socials and concert trips for its members. It is also currently in the process of setting up a community choir outreach project.

The current JCR president is John Grocott[8]

List of Principals[edit]

  • 1909-1911 Rev Sidney Nowell Rostron
  • 1911-1919 Rev Prof Dawson Dawson-Walker
  • 1919-1945 Rev Canon Charles Steel Wallis
  • 1945-1954 Rt Rev Ronald Ralph Williams
  • 1954-1955 Rev Dr G.J. Cumming (acting)
  • 1954-1970 Rev Dr Jim P. Hickinbotham
  • 1970-1978 Rev John C.P. Cockerton
  • 1978-1988 Miss D. Ruth Etchells
  • 1988-1992 Rev'd Dr A.C. Thiselton
  • 1992-1999 Mr. (later Rev'd) David V. Day
  • 1999-2006 Rt Rev'd Professor Stephen W. Sykes
  • 2006-Date Rev Professor David Wilkinson

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "The Guardian". Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "St John's College Record". 2010 Edition, page 9. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "English Heritage list". Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  5. ^ Mackay and Taylor. "The Parish of St Mary-the-less". Durham University. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Parish Finder". A Church Near You. Church of England. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Tallentire, Mark. "Tributes to college principal Dr Ruth Etchells". Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Executive Committee 2013-14: President". St John's College JCR. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
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