St John's College Alumni eNewsletter - December 2022

College and Alumni News for December 2022

December 2022

Dear Friends,

It’s a great pleasure to be writing to you, both to say ‘Hello’ and to send the College’s seasonal greetings.

I have been looking forward to arriving at St John’s for the past year and have thoroughly enjoyed my first Michaelmas Term. It has been a whirlwind of meeting students, academic staff and professional staff and hearing about what makes St John’s so very special as a community. I have also been getting to grips with how our committee and governance structure works, and of course to Oxford’s many interesting traditions.

The engagement and passion of all members of College is inspiring and I very much look forward to meeting as many of you as I can next year and to deepening my knowledge of St John’s.

I wish you all the best for a wonderful 2023.

All best wishes


Professor Dame Sue Black, Baroness Black of Strome


Royal Institution's 2022 Christmas Lectures

Professor Dame Sue Black will reveal the secrets of forensic science in this year's Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution​:

The series of three Lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four and Dame Sue will share the secrets of the real-life scientific detective process she uses to identify both the dead and the living.

Lecture 1 - Dead Body: 8pm 26 December 2022

Lecture 2 - Missing Body: 8pm 27 December 2022

Lecture 3 - Living Body: 8pm 28 December 2022

Once broadcast, the lectures can be viewed on BBC IPlayer here​:

Snapshots of College Life: Michaelmas Term 2022

Unveiling our new tapestries

The College has a long tradition of commissioning art for its architecture, an early example being William Laud's invitation to Hubert Le Sueur in 1633 to create the statues of Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria for the Canterbury Quadrangle (currently hidden behind scaffolding but due to be revealed again in 2023). More recent projects, including the architecture of the Garden and Kendrew Quadrangles have also allowed artists to create site-specific works inspired by their context. The Study Centre is no exception, the President found it was a great pleasure to attend the official opening of the new tapestries recently.

The two new tapestries, a set of six entitled Silence by Susan Morris and St John's Primer by Mary Lum, are beautiful works. You can find out more about them in the leaflets available in the Library.

Lamb & Flag

If visiting Oxford recently, many of you may have noticed that the Lamb & Flag, the 400-year-old pub on St Giles' owned by St John's, has reopened. It's the pub where the Inklings group of writers - including J R R Tolkein and CS Lewis - met to drink and is one of the most iconic pubs in Oxford.

The pub closed during the pandemic but it has been renovated and is now being run by the modern Inklings group, a band of fans of the Lamb & Flag.

Do go along when you are next in Oxford to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a coffee, tea or something stronger!

College Works

Work continues apace! The scaffolding in Canterbury Quad is now at full height ready for conservation work to the West Frontispiece, including replacing some leading.

The next set of focuses include work on the paving in the East Cloister, French polishing in the Old Library, the installation of toilets and radiators, and the decoration of two of the new teaching rooms.

Additionally, the College was very pleased that the refurbishment of St Giles House was recognised at this year’s Oxford Preservation Trust Awards. This was a complex project (St Giles House is a Grade II* Listed Building) that included a complete rewire, replacement fire alarm, redecoration, roof replacement, stonework repairs and replacement of mechanical plant and plumbing services.

Meet Ai-Da

The President recently had the opportunity to meet Ai-Da, a robot artist, whose first exhibition was held in St John's in 2019. Ai-Da has had quite a career since then and this event was held to receive the donation of a piece of art by the robot, now on display in the Study Centre until the end of Michaelmas Term.