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3rd Archbishop John Williams Memorial Lecture
29 August 2017


Talk in English by Drs Clive Holmes & Felicity Heal (both University of Oxford)
At St Tegai’s Church, Llandegai near Bangor LL57 4HU (where John Williams is buried)
at 19:00 on Friday 20 October 2017
preceded by reception at 17:30 in 17 Llandegai Village LL57 4HU for members & friends of St John’s, Cambridge, and followed by refreshments

Williams's attitude to beautifying churches seems contradictory. At Westminster Abbey, at the palace of the Bishop of Lincoln at Buckden, and at both colleges associated with him – Lincoln College, Oxford & St John's College, Cambridge – all the resources of art and music were deployed to enrich the services. Yet in dealing with parish churches, he argued that such beautification was contrary to the Injunctions of Queen Elizabeth I. This talk seeks to illustrate and resolve this apparent contradiction.

Tickets £5 at door or from Ian Russell, 17 Llandegai Village, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 4HU
Text & phone: 07 775 997 824

Retiring collection for St Tegai’s Church Restoration Fund (charity number 1075931)
Target for 2nd phase = £60,000

The Johnian Society | A Second Pilgrimage: St David’s and beyond | 21-23 June 2017
27 August 2017

'Nid ar un bererindod y mae gweld popeth yma ...'

'One doesn’t see everything here on one pilgrimage'

(From E. Llwyd Williams 'Crwydro Sir Benfro' .. Wandering in Pembrokeshire)

If this year's Johnian Society pilgrimage to St David's and its region was not exactly a 'holy' one, nevertheless one could not help but be strongly affected by the mystic sense of landscape, history and place in this, the furthermost south western corner of Wales. To Jan Morris 'The holiest place in Wales is Dewisland, (or) Pebidiog ....  which was once the spiritual hub of the whole Celtic world. Not only does the countryside there seem holy by its very nature, so ascetic but so exciting, all bare rock and heather headland falling to the wild Atlantic sea, but its associations too are intensely sanctified.'                                         

We had come, for a short time, to explore our Johnian connections with the area:

         with the widowed 13 year old Margaret Beaufort, bearing a son in the safety of Pembroke Castle in 1457 – and starting a dynasty;

         with Robert Recorde of Tenby, (c.1512–1558), educated at Oxford and St. John’s, royal physician, mathematician, a European polymath, prolific author and populariser of mathematics, inventor of the "equals" sign and controller of the royal mint;

         with the reminder from one former Bishop of St David's, Wyn Evans (2008-2016), that three of his forerunners were Johnians, Thomas Watson (1687-1689), Samuel Squire (1761-1766) and William Stewart (?Stuart, 1793/4-1800), only one of whom had ever paid a visit - once!;

         and, finally, with the College's connections to the modern Dewisland through Keith Griffiths, local boy, Johnian (MA Architecture 1976), international architect and cultural entrepreneur, whose contribution to the developing cultural, leisure and economic future of the area is considerable and lasting (and in one of whose hotels we were staying).

Over two evenings and a full day's touring we were welcomed by former Bishop Wyn Evans, who set the scene and told the story of fifteen centuries of pilgrimage since St David established his monastery somewhere on the current site sometime in the sixth century and which today attracts between 250,000 to 300,000 visitor-pilgrims annually "to the spiritual heart of Wales". We received a paper from the College's Dr Mark Nicholls (read by John Wyn Owen) in which he examined some persistent myths about Margaret Beaufort. Was she "the pious and generous" .. "the ambitious, pushy mother", "a clever, tough politician". We were given a brilliant tour of the Cathedral by former Bishop Wyn Evans. We visited Pembroke castle, where Margaret Beaufort bore Henry Tudor. In Tenby we heard from Professor John Tucker of Swansea University about the fascinating life and times of polymath Robert Recorde and his significance in the intellectual, commercial and political Tudor world of his time.

And we heard from Mike Cavanagh, Head of Cultural Services at Pembrokeshire County Council about St David's/ Dewisland's bid to become the next City of Culture in 2021, an attempt to create a lasting legacy and improved wellbeing for the inhabitants of this mostly rural area through cultural and economic regeneration.

Johnian Keith Griffiths' work in the area shows what can be achieved. In 2009 he established the Griffiths-Roch Foundation to purchase and restore historic buildings in the St. Davids peninsula as luxury hotels. By 2016 three historic buildings had been completely restored, the 12th century Grade 1 listed Roch Castle, the Grade 2* listed former Tudorbethan vicarage of Penrhiw and the 18th century Grade 2 listed Twr y Felin windmill and hotel. All three properties have been very highly praised in the national and international press.

Thus a place of pilgrimage for over fifteen centuries continues to attract pilgrims in our world of the twenty first century. Here the attractions and interactions of old and new create new cultures more appropriate to our own times. We are delighted to see that in both "old" and "new" the name of St John's College is not forgotten.

Huw Lewis (1961)

Honouring John Williams (1582-1650) – Archbishop and College Fellow & Benefactor
25 August 2017

On Thursday 21 April 2016 the Johnian Society’s North Wales Pilgrimage included visits to Cochwillan Hall, John Williams’s ancestral home in the Ogwen Valley of Snowdonia; and to the nearby Llandegai Parish Church, where he is buried. The church contains a monumental effigy in his memory; and a Latin epitaph – composed by John Hacket, his chaplain and biographer.  In 1598 Williams went up to St John’s; and in 1603 he became a Fellow.  Thereafter he became Chaplain to King James I, Dean of Westminster, Bishop of Lincoln, Keeper of the Great Seal – in effect Lord Chancellor, & thus the last British churchman to hold high political office.  Initially dismissed and imprisoned by King Charles I, he later regained his trust & became Archbishop of York.  He renovated and defended Conwy Castle for King Charles, but retired following Cromwell’s victory.  Williams’s considerable benefactions to the College funded the Library, two fellowships and four scholarships.  He was also the foremost literary patron of his day.  As the 2016 pilgrims found no translation of Williams’s epitaph, however, they asked Graham Jones (matriculated 1954) to create an English version, and Huw Lewis (matriculated 1961) to derive a Welsh version.  On Sunday 16 July 2017, led by John Wyn Owen – President of the Johnian Society, they returned to Llandegai Church – not only to celebrate Holy Communion, but also to present the church with the resulting bilingual translation, shown above.  The English text says: “Visitors – read and re-read that in this unlikely tomb of little note lies John Williams, most famed of all bishops, whose paternal lineage was the Williams family of Cochwillan and maternal the Griffiths of Penrhyn.  His supreme intellect and excellence in letters of all kinds earned the favour of King James who elevated him to the Deanships, first of Salisbury and then of Westminster. Similarly he was rewarded for his privy and favoured counsel to so great a King by Custodianship of the Great Seal of England and the Bishopric of Lincoln, then to be adorned by Charles I with the mitre of the Archbishopric of York.He was deeply learned in all areas of knowledge; a thesaurus of new language; the essence of pure and unimpaired theology; an oracle of political wisdom, sacred canons and practical civic governance; a virtuoso of the cymbal; with a comprehensive and unfailing knowledge of all human history; and all types of medication.  Of his great works, his meeting the cost of a library building to house twenty thousand volumes was an outstanding example of his munificence, his hospitable and noble character, his elegant way of living, and his compassion towards the poor. Subsequently, through times of great grief, he was sated by all he saw and heard; through the madness of internal conflict neither his king nor his country could he have served more fully or faithfully; having completed his 68th year, on 25 March which was for him the day of the dawning of his greatest faith in Christ, unshaken hence in his faithfulness to the King or by illness or death, he returned most piously to God.Nor does it matter that such a small monument placed in a hidden corner serves as the memorial to so great a man: throughout all time every age will celebrate his virtues.  Go on your way, traveller, you owe your eyes enough of a debt.”

Ian Russell (1963)  

Pictured: Huw Lewis, John Wyn Owen, Graham Jones, Archbishop John Williams’s epitaph, Ian Russell beside Archbishop’s portrait, historian Frances Lynch, and Father John Matthews with the translation. Photo Janet Lewis


Get-together for Johnians in Tokyo
18 July 2017

Message from Phil Robertson (1981)

Dear all,

The Senior Tutor Dr. Matthias Dörrzapf and his wife will be visiting Tokyo later this month.

I thought it would be good if we could have an informal get-together to welcome them, so I’ve booked a table at Andy’s in Yurakucho for the evening of Tuesday 25th July.

The cost will be 6000 yen per head, for Andy’s excellent fare (including king crab) and two-hour quasi-nomihodai.

Please let me know if you would like to attend and if you would like to bring a guest  via email.

I’ll need to let Andy know numbers by the preceding Saturday (22nd July).

A map to the venue is here:

Google map is here:

Hope to see you there!

Best regards,

Phil Robertson

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2017
29 March 2017

The eleventh annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by Professor John Butt OBE at 8pm in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford on Tuesday 6 June 2017. Professor Butt will play an hour-long programme of Baroque organ works by Bach. Admission is free with everyone welcome. There are no tickets required and no reserved seating.


Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture 2017
20 February 2017

The eleventh Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture, entitled 'Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves: LIGO and Beyond', will be given by Professor Kip Thorne at 5pm on Tuesday 23 May at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge.

Admission is free, but booking is required via the website

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2016
28 March 2016

The tenth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by Stephen Cleobury CBE (1967) at 8pm in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford on Tuesday 7 June 2016. Dr Cleobury will play an hour-long programme of Baroque organ works by Couperin, Pachelbel, Mozart, Scheidt and Bach. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. No tickets are required, and there is no reserved seating.

Johnian Bookplates
04 January 2016

As a Johnian, do you have a bookplate of your own? Or have you come across any such plates for other Johnians?

John Titford (1964) is compiling an illustrated biographical listing of Johnian plates from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century for publication by the Bookplate Society, and would love to hear from you if you could help in any way. Scans would be lovely, but originals even lovelier!

The collection so far consists entirely of men, so it would be particularly nice to be able to add some plates from Johnian women.

Please contact John if you are able to help at all.

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture 2016
16 December 2015

The tenth Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture, entitled "Harnessing the Quantum World", will be given by Professor Raymond Laflamme at 5 pm on Wednesday 16th March in Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge.

Admission is free, but booking is required via the website.

Remembering Warwick Burton (1973)
16 December 2015

Warwick Royston Burton died on 30 November 2015. A remembrance service will be held in at St Cuthbert's in Peasholme Green on 29 December, and his funeral will take place at York Minster on 30 December. Details of both services can be found here.

New illustrated biography of George Gilbert Scott features College buildings
27 August 2015

The Master's Lodge and Chapel of St John's feature in a new illustrated biography of George Gilbert Scott by Gavin Stamp.

In equal measure Sir Gilbert Scott was the most prolific, famous, of Victorian architects. He was also the most notorious and vilified. Slandered for more than a century for his Gothic Revival architecture, his reputation essentially remained tarnished - despite being the founder of the greatest architectural dynasty in British history - until the restoration in 2011 of one of his best-known buildings, the St Pancras hotel in London.

Gothic for the Steam Age: An Illustrated Biography of George Gilbert Scott is an important, long-overdue book celebrating Scott’s work. Although his practice amassed a huge portfolio producing more than seven or eight hundred designs, only a selection of his work is still available. Through photographs old and new, original drawings and prints, selected diary entries and more - all of Scott’s major secular work, most significant of his many signature churches, and his masterful thinking, are illustrated here.

Gavin Stamp is a highly regarded architectural historian and writer who for many years was chairman of the Twentieth Century Society. His other books include Lost Victorian Britain, Britain’s Lost Cities and Edwin Lutyens Country Houses (all published by Aurum), as well as The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme and The Changing Metropolis: Earliest Photographs of London 1839 –1879. He has also published on the history of telephone kiosks. He is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal Institute of British Architects and has personally led the charge in saving some of the landmarks of the Scott dynasty, most notably London’s Tate Modern.

Gothic for the Steam Age is published on 24 September and is available to pre-order on Amazon.

A celebration of the life of David Macklin CBE DL (1947)
13 April 2015

David Macklin died on 29 March 2015, aged 86.

David was born on 1 September 1928, and went to school at Felsted. In 1947 he went up to St John’s to read Classics and Law. Though he came direct from school, and had rarely rowed before coming to Cambridge, he was carried along by returning servicemen, among whom were a number of notably good oarsmen who saw the Lady Margaret Boat Club rise from eleventh to Head of the River in 1950, and to win the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley in 1951. This was the last time a College Crew won the Grand. David also got his Blue in the infamous 1951 race, where they re-wrote the rules of the Boat Race: the weather was rough and Oxford sank early in the race. The rules were rewritten to state that if a boat sank before the end of the Fulham Wall then, rather than declare the other crew victors, the race was to be re-rowed! 

David went on to row for Leander and won the Grand Challenge Cup again in 1952 and 1953. He is one of only three oarsman to have won the Grand three years in a row. These were the ‘sunshine years’ for Cambridge/Leander rowing as this crew won gold at the European Championships in Macon in 1951 and came fourth in the final at the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952. In the 1960s, David was a very active member of the Exeter Rowing Club.

Professionally, David pursued a distinguished career in the civil service, finishing as CEO of Devon County Council. He enjoyed a happy retirement, sailing in Scotland and travelling the world to see his four sons. He leaves his wife Janet, four sons and ten grandchildren - two of whom were in their turn Captains of LMBC.

A celebration of David’s life will be held in Topsham near Exeter on 1 September 2015.

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2015
01 April 2015

The ninth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by Lorenzo Ghielmi at 8 pm in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford on Thursday 11th June 2015. Mr Ghielmi will play an hour-long programme of Baroque organ works by Scarlatti, Pasquini, Zipoli, Bruhns and Bach. Admission is free with everyone welcome. There are no tickets required and no reserved seating.

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture 2015
05 January 2015

The ninth Andrew Chamblin Memoral Lecture, entitled "Colour, New Dimensions and the Geometry of Physics", will be given by Professor Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, at 5pm on Tuesday 10 March in Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge.

Admission is free, but booking is required via the website.

Professor Libby Burton's lecture on wellbeing in the built environment
05 December 2014

St John's was sad to hear of the death of Professor Elizabeth (Libby) Burton (1985) in November 2014.

In March, Libby organised the International Symposium on Design for Wellbeing in the Built Environment at the University of Warwick, where she worked as Founder Director of the WISE (Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments) research unit, established in 2004.

The symposium brought together selected academics to debate key questions around wellbeing in the built environment, and Libby opened the programme with a Legacy Lecture entitled 'The Pursuit of Happiness'.

Fred Sanger memorial service - Saturday 8 November 2014
26 September 2014

A Memorial Service for Frederick Sanger, BA, PhD, (Hon) ScD, OM, CH, CBE, FRS, twice Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, who died on 19 November 2013, aged 95, will be held in St John’s College Chapel on Saturday 8 November 2014 at 12 noon

For tickets, please apply online at or by phone 01223 339363, or in writing to The Chapel Clerk, St John's College, Cambridge, CB2 1TP, by 24 October 2014.

Guardian Masterclass on 'How to write about art' by Dr Noah Charney (2003)
01 July 2014

Dr Noah Charney (2003) will be teaching a one-day workshop for The Guardian as part of the Guardian Masterclasses series (workshops taught by Guardian contributors) on 4 October 2014, called 'How to write about art'.  It is open to the public and you can find more information about Noah and the course here.

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2014
10 March 2014

The eighth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by Terence Charlston FRCO ARAM at 8pm in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford on Thursday 12 June 2014. Mr Charlston will play an hour-long programme of Baroque harpsichord works by Bach, Byrd, Purcell, Blow, Forqueray and Handel. Admission is free with everyone welcome. There are no tickets required and no reserved seating.

'Discoveries' exhibition presented by the University of Cambridge Museums
27 January 2014

Location: Two Temple Place, London
Exhibition dates: 31 January–27 April 2014
Opening times: Monday, Thursday–Saturday 10am–4.30pm; Wednesday (late) 10am–9pm;  Sunday 11am–4.30pm; closed Tuesdays.

Presenting singular objects and unearthing little-known treasures in the extraordinary interiors of Two Temple Place on London’s Embankment, Discoveries is the first major exhibition to bring together the fascinating collections from all eight University of Cambridge Museums.

The exhibition challenges and responds to the very notion of ‘discovery’, displaying objects that span millennia; from artworks to scientific artefacts, historic instruments to rare zoological specimens. It is about imagination and knowledge, the pleasures of looking and the power of objects to generate wonder as well as new ideas.

The University of Cambridge has long been at the forefront of learning, invention, exploration and discovery across the arts and sciences. The University of Cambridge Museums have grown alongside this research and teaching, founded and developed by scholars and collectors to house their collections of objects and works.

This exhibition continues Two Temple Place’s series of annual winter exhibitions showcasing collections from outside central London. A programme of exhibition events will include performing arts, workshops, talks, guided tours and a range of children’s activities.

Visit for more information.

Memorial Service for Mr George Watson
06 January 2014

A Memorial Service will be held in the College Chapel at 12 noon on Saturday 1 February 2014 for Mr George Watson, Fellow 1961-2013.

After the Service, refreshments will be served in the Combination Room.


REDS, WHITES & VARSITY BLUES: New book celebrates Varsity wine tasting
16 December 2013

2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the Oxford & Cambridge Varsity blind wine-tasting competition. A new book celebrates this long-standing tradition.

Started in 1953 by the legendary Harry Waugh of John Harvey & Sons, the competition has been sponsored by Champagne Pol Roger since 1992. The oldest contest of its kind, the tasting match has fostered the careers of many leading members of the wine trade and press, including a number of Masters of Wine, and has cultivated fine wine enthusiasts internationally and encouraged the discipline of blind wine tasting, a notoriously difficult feat.

To celebrate this iconic rivalry – rife with politics, subterfuge, camaraderie and enduring friendships – its history over six decades has now been documented, through a lavishly illustrated collection of special contributions and vivid oral histories.

To order the book direct from the publisher, click here or download the order form.

Collect your copy of St John's College, Cambridge: A History
13 December 2013

As part of the College's Quincenetenary celebrations the definitive history of the College was produced. Edited by Dr Linehan, the volume offers a comprehensive view of the College from its foundation and features contributions from a number of Johnian contributors.

A copy of the history is available free of charge to every Johnian, thanks to a gift by an anonymous benefactor.
Johnians may still collect their copy in person only from the College Library during staffed hours.

©2017 St John's College, Cambridge - Registered Charity Number 1137428