Harold McCarter Taylor CBE TD. (1907-1995). Vice Chancellor Keele University 1961-67.

H M Taylor

Harold Taylor was a New Zealand-born British mathematician, theoretical physicist and academic administrator, but is best known as a historian of architecture and the author, with his first wife Joan Taylor, née Sills, of the three volumes of Anglo-Saxon Architecture, published between 1965 and 1978. (note i).

The 2 volume set entitled Anglo-Saxon Architecture, by H.M.Taylor and Joan Taylor is a complete catalogue of the (then known) Anglo-Saxon fabric surviving in the churches of England. This is the standard work for anyone studying ecclesiastical architecture before 1066, and is divided into two volumes for convenience of handling. The text contains copious references to previous papers and books appertaining. There are 362 plans and diagrams and 280 photographs. Harold Taylor and his wife Joan devoted thirty years of their leisure time to compiling this record, which has been written with careful thought and scholarly interpretation of the remains, and also the archaeological remains, of Saxon fabric of those early days in what was once termed the “Dark Ages”. A third volume was published in 1978.

The archeologist Philip Rahtz, with whom Taylor collaborated in the investigation of St Mary's Priory Church, Deerhurst, describes Taylor as a "devout Christian" and as "unfailingly elegant, witty, gracious and neat." Rahtz notes in his obituary of Taylor: "Although he wore old clothes in the field, they were always pressed and clean. We could never understand how they remained so, even when he was clambering on dirty roofs or in and out of trenches." (note ii).

A personal note by Frank Parsons.
Although I had not met Harold Taylor, my friend Dr. Catherine Hills (who directed the full scale excavation in the 1970’s of the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Spong Hill in Norfolk), told me that her recollection of Harold Taylor was seeing him clambering aloft on the scaffolding at the church of St. Mary, Deerhurst, and wearing his jacket. His jackets seemed to be the one thing that featured upon the man and his appearance at various sites. Having made a study of medieval architecture and church architecture in particular from an early age, and then from 1960 especially upon Anglo-Saxon churches, I was particularly delighted some years ago to obtain a set of Taylor’s books entitled “Anglo-Saxon Architecture”. The three volume set had been in the possession of R.C.H.Davis, the Oxford medievalist, and came with a handwritten letter of thanks from Taylor to Davis pasted onto the inner board of vol. III.

i. source - Wikipedia.
ii. source - Wikipedia.

photo top. H.M.Taylor (by Walter Bird).

photo right. Nave of St. Mary, Deerhurst, Glos.

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