EDWARD WILLIAM GODWIN

Born in Bristol, Godwin intended training as a civil engineer and was articled to William Armstrong, a local architect-cum-engineer and friend of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He set up his own office in 1854 and travelled to Ireland to assist his brother, also a civil engineer, with a design for a railway bridge. He met Burges in 1858 and they became good friends, visiting Ireland together in the 1860s when Godwin began Dromore and Glenbeigh Towers. His first major commission, Northampton Town Hall (1861), was based on Ruskin’s ‘Stones of Venice’. His designs for furniture and decoration were carried out by Green and King, London, and stained glass was supplied to Heaton, Butler and Bayne. Godwin was among the group who made purchases of Japanese objects after the 1862 exhibition, and he became very influenced by Japanese culture. His designs for applied art included furniture for the Art Furniture Co. and later William Watt, W. Smee, Cox and Son, Gillow’s, Waugh & Co., C. Greaves, James Peddle, and Collinson and lock, by whom he was paid a retainer from 1872 – 1874; wallpapers for Jeffrey & Co.; fabrics for Warner and Ramm; ceramics and tiles for Brownfield, Minton, Hollins & Co. and Wilcock & Co.; and metalwork for Messenger and Co. and Jones and Willis. During his affair with Ellen Terry, Godwin wrote a series of articles on theatrical scenery and costume, became increasingly interested in dress design, working at Liberty’s dress department from 1884. Godwin also wrote articles on Japanese art, Celtic and Saxon architecture, and contemporary issues for the ‘British Architect, the Architect and Building News’ In 1875 Godwin left Ellen and their two children, and soon after married Beatrice Philip, who became a pupil of his friend Whistler, with whom he had collaborated on the furniture for Watt at the 1878 exhibition. After Godwin’s death Beatrice married Whistler. He built Whistler’s controversial White House on Tite Street, Chelsea, and helped Oscar Wilde decorate his house in the same street in 1884. William Burges, J.P.Sedding, Peter Paul Pugin, H.Crisp, R.W.Edis, M.B.Adams and J.M.Bryndon were amongst his circle of friends and partners.