chapter  2
Pre-Raphaelitism and the Civic Gospel: Burne-Jones and Ruskin in Birmingham
WithStephen Wildman
Pages 10

This chapter examines in rather more detail the moral imperative behind the establishment of the Museum and its Pre-Raphaelite collection, which was significantly motivated by Ruskinian philosophy - a philosophy strongly flavoured by Birmingham's own contribution to political science and cultural life, the so-called 'Civic Gospel'. The Civic Gospel had its origins in the early 1850s, with the radical preaching of a group of Nonconformist ministers led by George Dawson at the Baptist Church of the Saviour, R. W. Dale at Carr's Lane Congregationalist Chapel, and William Crosskey at the Unitarian Church of the Messiah. With the Town Council refusing to spend any money on civic development, Dale especially maintained a forty-year campaign of preaching on the proper use of political power. 'A sermon in stone': again, appropriate Civic Gospel language which can perhaps be equated with the religious impulse underlying Ruskin's unique brand of paternalism - at least, as interpreted by his strongly Nonconformist Birmingham followers.