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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Edward Taylerson (1854–c.1942)

Ecclesiastical and architectural sculptor born in Norton, Co. Durham. While he was still young, he and his widowed mother moved to Kent. He studied at Faversham School of Art, then South London Technical School of Art and finally Westminster School of Art. He began as an ecclesiastical sculptor and is probably the Taylerson, then in the employment of Thomas Earp, whose carvings in G.E. Street’s Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 1871–78 (on the capitals of the pillars around the apse) were commended by William Butler in his book, The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity Dublin (1901). The high quality of Taylerson’s work assured his employment as an architectural carver on a number of important building projects during the 1890s and 1900s: he was one of Hamo Thornycroft’s assistants on John Belcher’s Institute of Chartered Accountants (1888–93); he carved the choir screen for G.H. Fellowes Prynne’s Church of St Peter’s, Staines, Surrey (1892–93), the ornamental details for T.E. Collcutt’s Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (1899–1901), the figures for the reredos in J. Arthur Reeve’s St Barnabas, Addison Road, Kensington (1909), and some of the decorative sculpture on Stanley Hamp’s Thames House (1911–12). His chef-d’oeuvre, however, is the programme of works he completed for James Brooks and John Standen Adkins in St John the Baptist, Holland Road, Kensington. His work here includes all the figures on the choir screen, parclose screens and north and south aisle screens (1894–1900) and in the narthex-cum-baptistery: the cycle of Wise and Foolish Virgins in stone between the column shafts and the saints, etc, in oak on the arched screen separating the baptistery from the nave (1909–11). He showed 38 sculptures at the Royal Academy 1884–99 and 1910–26, the 1900–09 break in all likelihood caused by pressure of work from his architect employers; significantly, in the 1911 census he no longer refers to himself as an architectural sculptor but a sculptor working on his own account. His last major commission was for a group in stone, Succouring the Defenceless, for the war memorial at Warlingham, Surrey; the memorial was unveiled in 1921 and Taylerson exhibited the model for the group at the Royal Academy in 1924 (no. 1358). He also evidently taught modelling and wood-carving at Battersea Polytechnic but available sources supply no dates.

Bibliography: Builder, 27 October 1911, p. 480; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 106–07, 194–95; J.G.F. Day and H.E. Patton, The Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland, London, 1932, p. 91; Irish Architectural Archive: Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720–1940; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 7–8; Mapping SculptureSurvey of London. Vol. XXXVII. North Kensington, London, 1973, pp. 133, 134; United Benefice of Holland Park: The Building. Look inside John the Baptist ChurchVictorian Web; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 101–05.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022