The Artists’ Village / Watts Gallery near Guilford in Surrey proved a very successful choice for our annual outing this year. Just 45 minutes from Waterloo, tucked away in the Surrey Hills, you can find this beautifully restored village where George Frederick Watts OM, RA (1817 – 1904) and his wife Mary Watts (1849 – 1938) established their strong artistic partnership.
Their home at Limnerlease House was originally designed as a Winter retreat to escape the fogs in London, but quickly became their main residence where they welcomed many Victorian artists. We enjoyed a tour of the rooms; the details of some of them can be seen in Gallery 2018.
The Watts Gallery was founded in 1904 and houses many of G.F.’s works, notably his finished oil paintings and sketches. We were given a detailed talk by one of the many helpful guides, which was illuminating for those of us who were not familiar with his work.
The Chapel is a truly astounding piece of architecture! Built in bright red brick, in the Arts & Crafts style of the later 19th century, it is quite extraordinary in design and decoration and has an overwhelming effect on those who visit it.
” The Watts Cemetery which surrounds The Chapel is more than 120 years old and was conceived and laid out by Mary Watts between 1895 – 1898. The exceptional Arts & Crafts gravestones and cloister give the space a unique and emotive atmosphere.”
This was a fascinating day out and one which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in the history of art, not just the Arts and Crafts movement.