Dr Laura Varnam

Sacred space; church architecture; material culture; lay religion; The Book of Margery Kempe; pastoral care; John Mirk’s Festial; Lollardy; hagiography.

Old English, Middle English, Linguistics.

I have supervised an undergraduate dissertation on space in Old English literature and extended essays on Beowulf, Chaucer, the N-Town cycle, and the Exeter Book.


 My monograph, The Church as Sacred Space in Middle English Literature and Culture, is under contract with Manchester University Press.

Dr Laura Varnam did her BA at Durham, her MA at Leeds, and her DPhil at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is the Lecturer in Old and Middle English at University College, Oxford. Laura is currently writing a book on the church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture (forthcoming with MUP). Her research interests are interdisciplinary and in June 2008 she co-organised an interdisciplinary conference at Balliol College, Oxford, with Dr Kathryne Beebe and Dr Bernard Gowers, entitled ‘There and Back Again: Re-Fashioning Journey and Place in the Middle Ages’. She is current a member of the Architectural Representation in Early Medieval England research network and she is involved in organising the Architectural Representations in the Middle Ages conference (April 2017 at University College, Oxford).

Laura is also an expert on the life and works of Daphne du Maurier. She is currently writing a book on du Maurier and regularly appears at the Fowey Festival of Words and Music (formerly the Du Maurier Festival), giving talks and running reading groups on du Maurier. Laura was interviewed in May 2015 for a forthcoming documentary on du Maurier for Arte.

Website: here

Twitter: @lauravarnam

College website profile.


  • 'Synne to shewe, vs to frame': Representing the Church in Robert Mannyng's 'Handlyng Synne'

  • The Importance of St Margaret's Church in 'The Book of Margery Kempe': A Sacred Place and an Exemplary Parishioner

  • The crucifix, the Pietà, and the female mystic: Devotional objects and performative identity in The Book of Margery Kempe

  • Church

  • Sanctity and the City: Sacred Space in Henry Bradshaw's 'Life of St Werburge'

  • More
List of site pages