The use of Christian imagery by the National Society of the Church of England in Religious Education materials from 1884 until the early twentieth century
This thesis examines the work of the National Society of the Church of England in Religious Education, with particular reference to the use of illustrated material in Religious Education textbooks and pupils’ books at the end of the nineteenth century. It begins with an outline of the National Society’s early development and the start of its publishing house, The Depository, in 1845. It then looks at some aspects of teacher training, curricula for Religious Education and the importance attached by the National Society to the moral and Christian training of teachers who later taught in Board Schools as well as Church of England schools. The thesis briefly discusses the reasons for the National Society’s publications in the light of contemporary Victorian ideas and then considers in details the following publications: The life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, The Childhood of Christ, The Ministry of Christ, The Passion of Christ and The Resurrection of Christ, the first of these being written by F.T. Palgrave and the others by an unknown author ‘R.E.H’, all being illustrated with twenty-four chromolithographs of Italian Renaissance Christian paintings dating from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Later materials, produced by the National Society and other publishers are then examined, in order to demonstrate the significance of The Life and The Stories. In revealing this part of educational history the thesis demonstrates that these publications were precursors for modern books, considered a success by contemporary teachers, in order to meet their own standards and the demands of the government regulations. The method used has been archival research into written sources and art historical research into the illustrations, with historical and theological method applied where appropriate.