WATTS GALLERY near Guildford

Steep wooded hills with an artists’ village nestling in the valley is not everybody’s vision of Surrey.  Yet a few miles outside Guildford in the village of Compton you will find the Watts Gallery Artists’ Village.  It was here that the prominent victorian artist George Frederic Watts and his wife Mary Watts had their country home.

Watts Gallery

At the heart of the village is the Watts Gallery built especially to house the artists’ work.  The Hope painting by Watts hangs here and has inspired many people including Barack Obama.

Watts Gallery

Over the road in Limnerslease, the house that the couple had built for them, is G F Watts studio, complete with pigment bottles.  Outside the studio is a fine display explaining telling more about the couple and their work, every object on display is accompanied by a PLEASE TOUCH sign which makes a pleasant change to the more normal hands off approach.

Watts Gallery

Just a little down the road is a cemetery with the Watts Memorial Chapel at its centre.  Mary Watts not only designed the building and its lavish interiors, she also taught the locals how to make terracotta decoration and many of the surrounding gravestones.

These intricate panels must have taken a lot of skill to produce.  Mary Watts hoped that sales of gravestones that the villagers had learnt how to make would give them a living.

Watts Gallery

The decor inside the church is many layered.  All the art work is based on plaster slathered onto a chicken wire base, then shapes of thick felt were affixed onto the plaster and then the whole lot painted and guided.

Watts Gallery

Encouraging budding artists still continues.  I loved these bags full of arty things to do for Watts Gallery’s youngest visitors.  Makes me sad that the bags are not “5 things for the under 15s”!


Watts Gallery

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  1. October 22, 2017 / 5:01 am

    I’ve been to both of these places! I used to go to Watts Chapel when I was going through some really difficult times during my first pregnancy. It gave me a lot of comfort. Such a beautiful place x

    • Catherine
      October 22, 2017 / 7:41 am

      It is both beautiful and calming, I can see that it would help in times of trouble

  2. October 22, 2017 / 5:26 am

    I have heard of the Watts gallery but never visited. You have inspired me. The pics in the chapel are just stunning! Mrs Adams is a bit of an artist so maybe I acn persuade her that we should pay a visit.

    • Catherine
      October 22, 2017 / 7:42 am

      There is a good, short, circular walk to be done as well

  3. October 22, 2017 / 5:56 am

    Hi Catherine, what an interesting place to visit. I particularly like your 2nd photo down, it’s how I imagine an artists table to look. The detail in the panelling is quite something. Very impressive.


    • Catherine
      October 22, 2017 / 7:43 am

      Those pigment bottles did cry out to have their photo taken!

  4. October 22, 2017 / 6:23 am

    What an interesting place to visit. It looks beautiful, I love a cemetery in autumn. The little bottles are fascinating too.#MySundayPhoto

    • Catherine
      October 22, 2017 / 7:44 am

      You could devote whole rolls of film to the cemetery alone!

  5. October 22, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    I would love some child free time to look around there, it looks amazing!

  6. Catherine
    October 22, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    It is but they do look to all geared up for little people

  7. October 22, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    What an inspirational place to visit. Such amazing craftsmanship and simply beautiful! #MySundayPhoto

  8. Clare Thomson
    November 2, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    That gravestone is absolutely stunning! What a fascinating find in Surrey. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      November 2, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      Surrey has lots of hidden gems!

  9. November 3, 2017 / 12:02 am

    Such an interesting place to visit. I wasn’t aware of it before now. I love visiting artists studios, and being inspired. My ability with a paint brush may be very well suited to the 5 things for under 5’s bag! #FarawayFiles

  10. November 4, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    I love the details in the chapel, thanks for sharing some of the process. I also love those vials of pigments. Thanks for sharing this with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  11. November 4, 2017 / 11:25 pm

    These are new to me! Def want to visit. I think the chapel looks especially pretty

  12. December 4, 2017 / 10:31 am

    Anything that Obama likes, I’m sure I would like too 😀 beautiful photos of all the details inside!

  13. March 2, 2018 / 8:26 am

    The chapel is stunning! I’ve never
    Actually heard of this place and it’s nearby too! One tomlookup #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      March 2, 2018 / 9:23 am

      Good cafe and nice walks as well,

  14. pigeonpairandme
    March 2, 2018 / 8:56 am

    I’d never heard of Watts Gallery. So many quirky little finds in our country! Nice that they’re encouraging people to touch the exhibits, and getting youngsters off to an early start when it comes to exploring art. #CulturedKids

  15. March 2, 2018 / 9:19 am

    I love that things say ‘Please touch!’ – probably more in tune with an artist’s mindset anyway, wouldn’t you think? #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      March 3, 2018 / 7:25 pm

      Artist do tend to be a tactile bunch!

  16. March 2, 2018 / 10:01 am

    I love a Gallery ! Thank you I’ll add this one to my list! X

    • Catherine
      March 3, 2018 / 7:24 pm

      Well worth a journey

  17. March 2, 2018 / 11:57 am

    I love mooching around a gallery, one of my favourite past times when I have the time. If I’m ever near Guildford now I know where to mooch. #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      March 3, 2018 / 7:24 pm

      Lots of interesting stuff to see in Surrey!

  18. March 2, 2018 / 8:15 pm

    Five things for the under 45s please! The panels look so delicate.

    • Catherine
      March 2, 2018 / 8:36 pm

      Maybe one for the 55 year olds too 😉

  19. March 3, 2018 / 11:07 pm

    “Please touch”. I love that. I understand that this sort of sign can’t be suitable for all attractions, but when visiting with kids it sure helps if they can become engaged in any little way possible. Seriously impressed by that gravestone too.

    Very interesting – thanks! #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      March 3, 2018 / 11:56 pm

      The graveyard is worth a post on its own!

  20. March 8, 2018 / 10:17 am

    I visited this gallery years ago as it’s not far from where I grew up. I don’t remember a great deal about it so I’ll have to revisit with my boys, thanks for the reminder. #Culturedkids

  21. March 8, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    I love those etchings it must take a lot of skill to do them. I haven’t taken mine to an art gallery yet, I really should. We have a great one in Cardiff that I should take the boys too #culturekids

    • Catherine
      March 8, 2018 / 7:39 pm

      I once had to fill six hours in Cardiff at a time when I had very little money and it was cold outside, the National Museum filled that time warmly, interestingly and cheaply!

  22. Go Live Young
    March 9, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    What an interesting place to visit. Like you i would love to see things to do for kids up to 15…why is it only for younger kids? #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      March 9, 2018 / 1:14 pm

      My kids are 14 and found lots to do. The bag is just for the under 5s and made a good picture 😉

  23. katherinefenech2017
    March 9, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    I’m a fan of the Please Touch signs! Signs telling you not to touch things feel a bit like a dare to me. And kids would love the opportunity to not just look at the art work as well! #CulturedKids

  24. March 16, 2018 / 11:01 am

    I am so pleased that they are encouraged to touch – it’s so hard stopping kids from touching things usually, It looks really beautiful. #CulturedKids

  25. March 21, 2018 / 6:12 pm

    Watts Gallery Artists’ Village looks so quaint and I love the 5s under 5! Need to check it out this year 😉 #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      March 22, 2018 / 7:24 pm

      It is very beautiful!

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