John Ruskin (1819-1900)

The art critic, author and social reformer was, with FD Maurice, a major influence on Octavia Hill’s life and work. She was under his tutorage and he funded her first housing experiments in the 1860s. It was Ruskin who introduced Hardwicke Rawnsey, a co-founder of the National Trust, to Octavia Hill.

After a bitter quarrel in the 1870s, they did not meet again, but when he died in 1901, Octavia Hill wrote:

“Since my letter to fellow-workers went to press, I have seen that Mr Ruskin is gone before. The earth seems indeed sadder and poorer that such a man lives on it no more.

To me the news brings up such a crowd of holy and lovely memories of all that he was and did in the far away years, that I am lost in the sense of tender reverence.That penetrating sympathy, that marvellous imagination, that grasp of expression, that high ideal of life have not only blessed his friends, but have left their mark on England. His thoughts have so pervaded thousands of homes that England is better, greater, and more attuned to noble ideals than she could have been but for his life and writings”

Today, the St. George’s Guild, founded by Ruskin in 1817, aims to promote the advantages of education and training in the fields of rural economy, industrial design and craftsmanship and appreciation of the arts.