James Walter Chapman-Taylor was an architect devoted to designing houses based on the principles of the English Arts and Crafts movement, popular internationally from the 1890s through to the 1930s.
The movement promoted a return to simple, traditional English cottage style houses, with interior features in adzed timber, whitewashed plaster walls, large beams and lintels, small framed windows and hand-crafted fittings. Most of the 84 examples of domestic architecture Chapman-Taylor created in New Zealand, along with the many examples of the furniture he crafted, are based on the Arts and Crafts style.
A builder by trade, from 1903 Chapman-Taylor undertook an architecture and design course with the International Correspondence Schools of the United States. In 1909 and again in 1914 Chapman-Taylor travelled to England where he observed the design of traditional English cottages and viewed the work of prominent Arts and Crafts architects including Charles Voysey, E. W. Gimson and Sir Edwin Lutyens.
On his return to New Zealand a mature style emerged; his designs became more cohesive. The consistency of his style and method is most evident in the homes he designed between 1915 and his last work in 1953. Designed with skill and sensitivity, most Chapman-Taylor buildings are extant, proof of their quality and ageless, classic appeal.
The relationship between the spiritual and material concerned Chapman-Taylor throughout his life. He attempted to live for honesty of purpose, beauty in truth, and the greater reason for life, which were tenets of the Arts and Crafts philosophy.
By Judy Siers; adapted by Matthew Tonks