Dr Emma J. Wells

Dr Emma J. Wells


Dr Emma J. Wells is an historian of religious and architectural history, specialising particularly in the medieval and early modern eras. She is a passion advocate of the buildings history approach which seeks to understand people and the past through their surroundings. Her expertise covers everything from parish churches and cathedrals, the saints, pilgrimage and stained glass, to historic buildings in the modern age. Emma is the author of Pilgrim Routes of the British Isles (Hale, 2016) and is the midst of finalising another on the senses in the medieval church for OUP. Her next book, Heaven On Earth: The Lives & Legacies of the World’s Greatest Cathedrals will be published by Head of Zeus (2020/21).

Emma writes often and reviews for newspapers and magazines, including BBC History, History Today, the Times Literary Supplement, History Revealed and BBC Countryfile. A lively broadcaster and frequent acclaimed public speaker at literary festivals, academic conferences and corporate lectures, Emma’s experience also stretches beyond the world of religion and architecture, having lectured in archaeology, history, and art. She wrote and presented a three-part documentary for Viral History on St Cuthbert’s Way and appears often as a talking head as well as podcast contributor, with appearances on History Hit’s Art Detective, History Extra, and as a ‘Don’ on BBC Radio 4’s The 3rd Degree.

Emma gained her PhD from Durham University, for which she was awarded the 2011-12 British Archaeological Association Ochs Scholarship and Society for Church Archaeology Research Grant. She is now a lecturer and Programme Director of English Building History and Parish Church Studies at the University of York, and a Research Associate within the Department of Archaeology.

She gained her racing licence aged 18 and previously raced with Formula Woman.

Dr Emma J. Wells @Emma_J_Wells

Fascinating NEW POST on ‘Encountering the Parish in 17thC Italy’ - @c_i_mcnamara highlights a conscientious bishop, village affairs (pic: Conco parish 1688) & visitation records full of local colour: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/myparish/posts/encounteringtheparish @WarwickHistory @RenWarwick @EcclesHistSoc @Emma_J_Wells

I said I had exciting news, here it is! I’ve started my own podcast, History Gems! 💎 First episode goes live on Wednesday featuring the brilliant @TracyBorman, until then do check out the trailer in all the usual podcast places & please follow the page! 😁😁😁

#AdventCathedralsCountdown1: Hagia Sophia, Turkey. Official seat of Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople (now Istanbul). After Nika Riots conflagrated 2nd building on site, Emperor Justinian I saw reconstruction as opportunity to heal divide between his people + dominion. So 1/

For advent (which technically began yesterday), I’ve decided to do a #cathedralscountdown in place of #todaysloveliness, starting today. I hope you enjoy. First post coming a little later...

1 week left to apply! Do get your applications in. https://twitter.com/SocChurchArch/status/1325764420014919680

Very much recommend what will an important tome for the field.

Can vouch for this. A wonderful read. In my list of history books in my http://bookshop.org profile recommendations!

#TodaysLoveliness: St Nicholas' parish church, Calne Without. Built as a mission church for £170, £220 with fittings, the design intended as an alternative to the 'hideous and comfortless iron buildings so generally used' in 1892 to the design of J.H. Hopkins.
📸 Richard Slessor

At CCT we have been developing frameworks and toolkits to enable communities to manage and deliver locally-led #maintenance projects such as limewashing. By passing on these skills, we are bringing people together and looking after the building #NationalMaintenanceWeek

A nice little piece on how pilgrimages are marching back into fashion by @lennelfennel. You might recognise a few names in there.

There has been very little discussion of the 30th anniversary of PPG16 here on Twitter - 30 this month. I remember working as an Inspector both before & after in came into force, & what a huge difference it made. Here is my well-thumbed copy. #archaeology #PPG16 #historicengland

#TodaysLoveliness: St Edmund's Church, Southwold. c1430-70 East Anglian flint work. Carved angel roof. Chancel stalls C15 with traceried front panels, misericords and animal and figurative arm rests, rood beam with arcade, St Edmund statue, 1989 by Andrew Swinley.

How have I only just seen this? 300 drones took flight in Seoul to remind people to wear masks! 😍

For every £1 invested in us by @churchofengland commissioners & @synod we return £6 to spend on #conservation & #community engagement activities.

We work hard to ensure that historic churches under our care & protection remain at the heart of their local communities. https://twitter.com/TheCCT/status/1331528087461388288

Just over a week until I give @TheCCT Annual Lecture: Holy Inappropriate? “Secular” uses of the medieval church. Now, more than ever, should we be asking how were and indeed how should churches be used. What is the function of religious space? To register: https://m.facebook.com/events/s/the-cct-annual-lecture-holy-in/828223641345995/?ti=icl

I loved recording this episode with @cath_fletcher on the darker side of the Italian Renaissance. We talk about famous works of art from Renaissance Italy and how, despite their beauty, they’re tainted with dark truths. #NGT100 @ahrcpress


It's St Katherine's day! She was the subject of my PhD & 1st book & I'm still fascinated by her. Here are my photos of her on the screens at St Mary the Virgin Wiggenhall & North Tuddenham (both Norfolk). She's with St Sebastian at NT who is, unusually, fully clothed...

"Cathedrals were never meant only for worship: they are meeting places and community centres."

This is true of all our church buildings. Closing them was the right decision, but seeing them re-open (where is safe for them to do so) is a great joy.