HUMPHREY RICHARDSON TAYLOR [1905-1996]

H. R. Taylor, known as 'Reg' to his friends, had many and varied careers, but his lifelong passion, arising from his love of the clarinet, was orchestral music. In 1946 he joined the Cheam Concert Orchestra, founded before the First World War, and became its Musical Director in 1962. Under him the Orchestra continued to give charity concerts until failing eyesight forced him to retire in 1988. At the time he had a library of over 1,000 standard orchestral works, which his Executors put to charitable use.

The Taylor Family

In 1770, Humphrey Taylor, ancestor of H. R. Taylor, established the Chelsea Distillery for Liqueurs, Cordials and Strong Waters. Built in pleasure grounds created by French Huguenot gardeners at a time when Chelsea was an outlying village, it soon became famous, especially for rosewater, made from flowers grown in the firm's surrounding rose gardens [where Shawfield Street now runs], and attracted the custom of Royalty and the nobility. King George IV visited the distillery more than once when Prince of Wales; the Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria, was a frequent visitor and purchaser, as were the Duchess of Gloucester, Lady Churchill, the Duke of Northumberland and Viscount Chelsea.

Under Edward James Taylor [1829-1904], the firm of Humphrey Taylor and Company became one of the largest of its kind in the country, specialising in the distillation and production of liqueurs such as apricot and peach brandies, in addition to trading as wine and spirit merchants. It was awarded gold medals at the International Exhibitions of 1851 and 1852,  a Grand Prix at the Festival of Empire in 1911, and a Royal Warrant during the reign of King George V.

By 1875 the firm, trading as Taylor, Son and Gosnells, perfume distillers, from 121 Kings Road, was offering distilled and toilet waters, fancy soaps, pomades and 'preparations for the teeth'. Edward Taylor's advice on distillation was sought world-wide; he re-modelled, for instance, the Glenmorangie Distillery at Tain, Scotland. When the business outgrew its buildings, it was relocated to larger premises at the Bloomsbury Distillery, 45 New Oxford Street.

Following his death, Edward was succeeded in the business by his son Humphrey Richardson Taylor [1872-1954], a keen huntsman and horticulturalist. Neither of his two sons, Edward, known as 'Dick' and Humphrey, known as 'Reg', retained connections with the family firm.