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BA (Hons) (Oxon), MA (Lond), DPhil (Oxon)
John is the Assistant Director of the Centre for Pilgrimage Studies at the University. His work currently focuses on the relationship between cathedrals, saints’ cults and pilgrimage from the medieval period to the present day. He first came to York in 2014 as a Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded ‘Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals: Past and Present’ project. Following that he was a researcher on projects looking variously at the influence of Thomas Becket’s cult in Canterbury and London, and at exploring ways in which understanding historic uses of space could help with visitor engagement in contemporary churches.
He was a key member of the planning and organisation committees for ‘Becket 2020’, the anniversary commemorations of Thomas Becket’s birth, death and translation. His work on the digital reconstructions of Thomas Becket’s medieval shrine in Canterbury Cathedral, produced by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University, received international media coverage in 2020. He has made several appearances on the BBC and the Smithsonian Channel discussing various aspects of his work on pilgrimage and medieval history.
John's research focuses on the interactions between ecclesiastical institutions and the laity, from the medieval period to the present day. Since 2014 he has been studying the use of shrines in England's major cathedrals, particularly how in the Middle Ages these sites were curated and apportioned to suit the needs and expectations of visitors, pilgrims and resident communities. His work is based on extensive archival research and strongly interdisciplinary, working with sociologists, ethnographers, digital archaeologists, and cathedral and heritage practitioners to recreate past experiences and shed light on current practice.
Most recently he has published on various aspects of the medieval and post-medieval cult of Thomas Becket, as well as editing and contributing to a ground-breaking study of cathedrals and pilgrimage. He contributed the text to the web resource ‘The Becket Story’ and worked with teams at the University of York's Department of Education and Canterbury Cathedral to develop teaching resources for pilgrimage and the Thomas Becket controversy at Key Stages 2 and 3. His edition of the 1428 ‘Customary of the Shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral’ is due for publication in early 2022.
John has also published on, and continues to be interested in, monasteries and social relations in medieval Devon.
The Customary of the Shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral: Latin Text and Translation, Arc Humanities Press (forthcoming, 2022)
Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals: Past, Present, and Future, (ed. with Dee Dyas) Palgrave MacMillan, 2020
‘St Thomas Becket and Medieval London’, History 105:367 (2020)
‘Modelling the Cult of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 173 (2020)
'Replication or rivalry? The ‘Becketization’ of pilgrimage in English cathedrals', Religion 49:1 (2019)
'More English than the English, more Roman than Rome? Historical signifiers and cultural memory at Westminster Cathedral' (with Alana Harris), Religion 49:1 (2019)
'Visibly different: continuity and change at Westminster Cathedral' (with Marion Bowman, Simon Coleman, and Tiina Sepp), in D. Goodhew & A-P Cooper (eds.), The Desecularisation of the City: London's Churches, 1980 to the Present, (London: Routledge, 2018), p. 300-328
''Despite the Prohibition of the Lord Bishop': John Grandisson and the Limits of Episcopal Power' in Episcopal Power and Local Society in Medieval Europe 1000-1400, (eds.) P. Coss, C. Dennis, A. Silvestri, & M. Julian-Jones,(Turnhout, Brepols, 2017), p. 208-221
'Monasteries and the Defence of the South Coast in the Hundred Years' War' Southern History 32 (2012), p. 1-23