The Guild of St George is a charitable trust founded by John Ruskin in the 1870s as a vehicle to implement his ideas about how society should be re-organised. Its members, who are called Companions, were originally required to give a tithe of their income (one tenth) to the Guild. Although the Guild failed to achieve Ruskin's utopian aims, it continues to this day and is responsible for a remarkable museum collection put together by Ruskin himself to illustrate his aesthetic and social ideas. The Guild collection is displayed at the Ruskin Gallery in Sheffield. The Guild also gives small grants, and has recently organised a highly successful campaign to encourage more people to practise drawing under the title 'Drawing Power.'
Southall, who had been articled to the Birmingham architects Martin and Chamberlain from 1879 to 1882, designed the Bewdley Museum for Ruskin in 1885-6, but it was never built. See the 1980 exhibition catalogue, p. 6. Southall's uncle, George Baker, was a trustee the Guild of St George and gave twenty acres as a site for the proposed museum.
The present drawings may have been amoung those exhibited at the Fine Art Society, London, 1886. Whatever the case, they are rare survivals; according to the 1980 exhibition catalogue, p.9, 'the whereabouts of Southall's designs for the Guild Museum at Bewdley are unknown.'