I’ve been wanting to visit Watts Chapel, in Surrey, for a while and this year, I finally got there. Wow!
The chapel is a Grade 1 listed mortuary chapel built by the artist Mary Watts and the villagers of Compton between 1895 and 1904. The terracotta panels on the exterior are made from symbols taken from Celtic, Romanesque, Jewish and Egyptian traditions. The exterior is very striking but I thought the interior was absolutely stunning.
The interior had been created, in low relief, using felt, rope and other materials which were then covered with gesso and painted in rich colours. The design incorporated many symbols representing ‘growth and decay’, ‘the light and dark side of all things’ and the circle of the eternal ‘without beginning, without end’.
On the Watts Gallery website you’ll find a 360 degree view of the chapel.
The cemetery in which the chapel is located is itself Grade II listed, with many of the graves designed in the Arts & Crafts style.
It’s certainly worth a visit and, while you’re there, you can also see Watts Gallery, Limnerslease (the house where Mary lived with her husband George Watts) and take a walk around the village of Compton.