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Whitelands Ruskin Lecture 2018

Past Whitelands Ruskin Lectures:


Friday 11 May 2018

Gilbert Scott Lecture Theatre, Whitelands College, University of Roehampton

Beate Howitt, Guild Companion and 1957 Whitelands May Queen

‘One of Ruskin’s Whitelands College May Queens: Her Personal Story’.

In 2017, Guild Companion Beate Howitt celebrated the 60th anniversary of her election and crowning as the Whitelands May Queen, in a tradition instigated at John Ruskin's suggestion in 1881. In this year's Ruskin lecture, Beate shared her story of her crowning as May Queen in 1957, her perspective having come to this country as a refugee from Nazi Germany and her lifetime of interest in Ruskin's ideas since.

A note from Guild Master Clive Wilmer: Beautifully crafted and engagingly delivered, Beate's talk gave vivid testimony to the deep meanings embodied in Ruskin’s conception. His May Day has often been thought one of the more eccentric of his projects. Beate made it clear to us that, on the contrary, it touches on the whole purpose of the College and asks us to reflect on education, community, love of nature and the joy of life.

Like most Guild lectures, the text of Beate Howitt’s One of Ruskin’s Whitelands College May Queens: Her Personal Story is available as a Guild booklet. Priced at £6, copies may be obtained from the Director for Publications, Peter Miller, at Many other Guild publications can still be obtained from Peter, including the Ruskin Lecture for 2017, Louise Pullen’s Genius and Hell's Broth: A Tale of Two Artists - Frank Randal and William Hackstoun, also £6.

The May Day Ceremony followed on Saturday, 12 May. Dr Rachel Dickinson presented the May Monarch and his or her attendants with a selection of Ruskin's books.


6pm for 6.30pm, Friday, 12 May 2017
Gilbert Scott Lecture Theatre, Whitelands College, University of Roehampton

Whitelands Ruskin Lecture

Revd Canon Dr David Peacock OBE
My three-corneredest of Chaplains':
John Ruskin and the Revd John Pincher Faunthorp

Portrait of the Revd John Pincher Faunthorpe by Arthur George Walker (1861-1939).
Property of Whitelands College, University of Roehampton.

The Revd John Pincher Faunthorpe (1839-1924) was Principal of Whitelands College for a period of 33 years – 1874 to 1907. He struck up a relationship with John Ruskin, which resulted in the founding of the Whitelands May Day ceremonies. For a time, the two men were in regular correspondence. Ruskin commissioned Faunthorpe to assist him in a range of tasks, such as the reading and correcting of proofs, and the creation of an index to Fors Clavigera, Ruskin’s Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain.

The Whitelands Ruskin Lecture by David Peacock (himself a former Principal of Whitelands) will give an overview of Faunthorpe’s origins, leading to his eventual appointment as Principal of Whitelands College. It will then go on to chart the development of the relationship between Ruskin and Faunthorpe over the period 1877 to 1887, which encompassed a significantly broader range of issues and interests than the establishment of the annual May Queen election alone.

David Peacock was Principal of Whitelands College from 1985 to 2000. During that time he took a keen interest in the Whitelands May Day festival and went on to research its origins and history for which he was awarded a PhD by the University of Lancaster. He is currently editing his thesis prior to publication towards the end of 2017.

David is a Companion of the Guild of St George and a former trustee of the Ruskin Foundation. He was Chair of the Friends of Ruskin's Brantwood from 2001 to 2012. An ordained Anglican priest, David is Canon Emeritus of Southwark Cathedral.

David was appointed OBE in 2016 in recognition of his contribution to the rehabilitation of offenders in the community.

FREE EVENT but please email to reserve your place.

A finger buffet will be served before and after the lecture.
Printed copies of the lecture will be avilable for purchase on the day and thereafter from our shop.

The May Day Ceremony will follow on Saturday, 13 May. Dr Rachel Dickinson will present the May Monarch and his or her attendants with a selection of Ruskin's books.

Images: (left) the St Ursula window at Whitelands College, by Sir Edward Burne-Jones; (top right) Ruskin May Queen cross for May Queen Elizabeth Hughes, 1892. Designed by Arthur Severn. Whitelands College Archives; and (right) Revd Canon Dr David Peacock OBE.

Download the flier.



Friday, 13th May 2016, 6.30pm
Third Whitelands Ruskin Lecture

'What do you mean by dressing?' Ruskin and Dress

A lecture by Dr Rachel Dickinson

Whitelands College, University of Roehampton

Holybourne Avenue, London, SW15 4ID.

Purchase the lecture for £6 + £1.50 P&P: email for details.

The Victorian polymath John Ruskin wanted to improve the world. One of the ways he shared his vision for a better society was through the ideas of cloth and clothing. This lecture starts with his question ‘What do you mean by dressing?’ It uses examples from across Ruskin’s writing, including his early plans for The Guild of St George (the charity Ruskin founded), to outline five lessons: Question and redefine common cultural assumptions; Recognise that economics and aesthetics are intertwined; Use art to teach: here, a model for a well-dressed society; We should all learn Ruskinian ‘dress-making’; and, We must actively make the world more beautiful. It concludes with the contemporary example of Whitelands College and the continuing tradition that each May Monarch chooses a charity to support. The outgoing May Monarch’s chosen charity, War Child, embodies Ruskin’s vision of actively helping to improve the world by teaching, feeding, sheltering those in need – and making what Ruskin would call a ‘well-dressed’ society.

Dr Rachel Dickinson is a Principal Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is based at the Cheshire Faculty in Crewe, where she teaches English literature in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Her current research is on Ruskin and textiles, as well as using Ruskin as a source of inspiration in thinking about twenty-first century problems. She is a Director of The Guild of St George.

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