Culture notes

Why is there no God in the British Library's latest exhibition?   

All exhibitions commit sins of omission, but the omissions in Georgians Revealed are unforgivable

11 January 2014

9:00 AM

11 January 2014

9:00 AM

Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain at the British Library (until 11 March) would have you believe that the religious life was not a feature of Georgian Britain. God is an invisible force in this exhibition and the viewer has to know a fair amount about the period’s history to see Him at work among the exhibits.

Josiah Wedgwood’s famous anti-slavery medallion is shown; but there is nothing about the non-conformist religious tradition that inspired him and other abolitionists. The decision to ignore that religious past means that the viewer cannot learn about the century-long tension between the established Church of England and the other protestant churches; the resolution of which helped to form the basis of our tolerant, liberal society.

All exhibitions commit sins of omission; but the omissions here are unforgivable. In April 1739, a disenchanted Anglican called John Wesley preached to thousands of non-conformists in a field in Somerset. The first Methodist chapel was built soon afterwards at Horsefair in Bristol, then England’s second city. You might say that Wesley and his brother Charles were celebrities (in the best sense of the term); but the curators don’t think them worth a mention. Instead — apart from drawings, prints and other objects (see James Gillray’s ‘A cockney and his wife going to Wycombe’, 1805) — we have sensational displays and commentary about a lag who escaped from Newgate Prison a few times before being executed and some half-dressed harlot whose name escapes me. This show is equally forgettable.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • Umberto

    The Atheism allied of the poitical-correctness is now a totalitariam invisible force, like stalinist emendation on the nomenklatura’s photographic pictures after the purges, they want purge away God from the Georgian Era.

  • The PrangWizard of England

    The spirit of the old Soviet Union is alive here, our cultural institutions are riddled with Marxist believers, they come in all guises, they indoctrinate our children in schools and universities, they are rampant in the BBC and other parts of the mainstream media, and in the ‘climate change’ lobby. All we don’t have so far is the physical violence. But it coming, slowly. The police are becoming politicised and targeting people who speak out against injustice and who attempt to defend freedom of speech. Arrests are becoming more common. But they don’t arrest those on the Left.