Born in Bristol, he was a British architect, designer, and writer famous for his contributions to the English Aesthetic Movement which drew its inspiration mainly from Eastern Asia, particularly Japan. In 1861 he won a competition for a design for the Northampton town hall and its decoration and furniture; the design he submitted was in the personal French Gothic Revival style that he preferred in all his early work. About that time he decorated his own house in the Japanese manner, the first of its kind in Great Britain. He moved to London in 1865 and between 1867 and 1871 designed Dromore and Glenbegh castles in Ireland. Godwin’s later architectural work was mainly domestic and included houses for other artists like Bedford Park with Richard Norman Shaw (1875–81), the White House in Chelsea (ca. 1877) which he made for his artist friend James McNeill Whistler. Because of his association with the actress Ellen Terry, with whom he lived for six years, he was greatly interested in all aspects of theatre. The furniture he designed for her house in Small Hythe, Kent, was particularly elegant. Godwin became one of the leaders of the Aesthetic Movement, inspiring many well known designers throughout the world such as Herter Brothers, Edouard Lièvre and Greene and Greene.