James Chapman Lovely was articled to an engineer and surveyor employed by the London Metropolitan Board of Works. In 1864, at the age of 20, he migrated to South Australia. On his arrival he joined the Adelaide land agents and surveyors Green and Wadham.
On 2 September 1878 Lovely presented to the committee plans and specifications for the construction of the new St Bedes Anglican Church, Semaphore, which were formally approved. Contemporary records sometimes assumed that the plans were prepared by Lovely himself: the Register, for instance, in its supplement on 1 January 1879, specifically named Mr J. C. Lovely as the architect. There is, however, reasonable ground for doubt. Whatever the case, Lovely and colleague Mr Cave presented recommendations about the site of the building.
Lovely became involved in other civic activities. In 1897 he was Mayor of the Semaphore Corporation. His name appears on a medal that was issued at the Adelaide Exhibition in that year (NU 34842).
Also known as 'Colonel Lovely', James Chapman Lovely's former home at 89 The Esplanade, on the south corner of Dunn Street, Adelaide, was demolished in 1976.
Anglican Parish of Semaphore, Port Adelaide and Northern West Lakes website http://www.users.bigpond.com/stbedestpaul/text/st_bedes.htm, accessed 25 Aug 2005.