Watts Cemetery Chapel

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Watts Cemetery Chapel
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Location in Surrey
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Location in England
General information
Architectural style Gothic Revival
Town or city Compton, Surrey
Coordinates 51°13′04″N0°37′56″W / 51.21775°N 0.6321°W / 51.21775; -0.6321 Coordinates: 51°13′04″N0°37′56″W / 51.21775°N 0.6321°W / 51.21775; -0.6321
Construction started1896
Client Watts Gallery
Design and construction
Architect Mary Fraser-Tytler
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameWatts Memorial Chapel
Designated14 June 1967
Reference no. 1029541

The Watts Cemetery Chapel or Watts Mortuary Chapel is a chapel in an Art Nouveau version of Celtic Revival style in the village cemetery of Compton in Surrey. While the overall architectural structure is loosely Romanesque Revival, in the absence of any appropriate Celtic models, the lavish decoration in terracotta relief carving and paintings is Celtic Revival, here seen on an unusually large scale. According to the local council, it is "a unique concoction of art nouveau, Celtic, Romanesque and Egyptian influence with Mary's own original style". [1] Other responses have been less positive. Ian Nairn, in the 1971 Surrey volume of the Buildings of England series, described the interior as "one of the most soporific rooms in England" and regretted "the intolerable torpor and weariness of the motifs". [2] It is a Grade I listed building. [3]

Chapel Religious place of fellowship attached to a larger institution

The term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship that is attached to a larger, often nonreligious institution or that is considered an extension of a primary religious institution. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a college, hospital, palace, prison, funeral home, church, synagogue or mosque, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building, sometimes with its own grounds. Chapel has also referred to independent or nonconformist places of worship in Great Britain—outside the established church.

Art Nouveau Style of art & architecture about 1890 to 1910

Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and applied art, especially the decorative arts. It was most popular between 1890 and 1910. A reaction to the academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers.

Celtic Revival

The Celtic Revival was a variety of movements and trends in the 19th and 20th centuries that saw a renewed interest in aspects of Celtic culture. Artists and writers drew on the traditions of Gaelic literature, Welsh-language literature, and so-called 'Celtic art'—what historians call Insular art. Although the revival was complex and multifaceted, occurring across many fields and in various countries in Northwest Europe, its best known incarnation is probably the Irish Literary Revival. Here, Irish writers including William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, "AE" Russell, Edward Martyn and Edward Plunkett stimulated a new appreciation of traditional Irish literature and Irish poetry in the late 19th and early 20th century.



When Compton Parish Council created a new cemetery, local resident artist Mary Fraser-Tytler, the wife of Victorian era painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts, offered to design and build a new mortuary chapel. The Wattses had recently build a house, "Limnerslease", a few hundred yards away, now part of the Watts Gallery. Tytler was a follower of the Home Arts and Industries Association, set up by Earl Brownlow in 1885 to encourage handicrafts among the lower classes, and the chapel was the Wattses' contribution to this characteristically Victorian preoccupation with social improvement through creative enlightenment. [1]

Victorian era period of British history encompassing Queen Victorias reign (1837–1901)

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of Continental Europe. In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, this period began with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodist, and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by the colonial antagonism of the Great Game with Russia, climaxing during the Crimean War; a Pax Britannica of international free trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.

George Frederic Watts British painter and sculptor

George Frederic Watts, RA was an English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. He said "I paint ideas, not things." Watts became famous in his lifetime for his allegorical works, such as Hope and Love and Life. These paintings were intended to form part of an epic symbolic cycle called the "House of Life", in which the emotions and aspirations of life would all be represented in a universal symbolic language.

Watts Gallery art gallery in Compton, United Kingdom

Watts Gallery – Artists' Village is an art gallery in the village of Compton, near Guildford in Surrey. It is dedicated to the work of the Victorian-era painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts.

A group of local amateurs and enthusiasts, many of whom later went on with Mary Fraser-Tytler to found the Compton Potters' Arts Guild, constructed the chapel from 1896 to 1898; virtually every village resident was involved. The ground plan is essentially circular; from the outside the building has the look of a Roman Italianate chapel. Local villagers were invited to decorate the chapel under Mary's guidance, resulting in an interior that fuses art nouveau and Celtic influences, combined with Mary's own original style. [4] Each member of Fraser-Tytler's evening class, led by Louis Deuchars, had a separate job, with 74 Compton villagers taking part. G.F. Watts paid for the project and also painted a version of The All-Pervading for the altar only three months before he died.

The Compton Potters' Arts Guild was a pottery, founded by and based at the Surrey home of Scottish artist, Mary Fraser Tytler.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Louis Reid Deuchars (1870–1927) was a Scottish artist and sculptor.

The graves display sayings influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, including "The Morning Stars Sang Together" and, inside the chapel, "Their hope is full of immortality but the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God." [5]

Both Watts have memorials in the "cloister" a few yards from the chapel, and a number of the memorials throughout the small cemetery use unglazed terracotta, even from dates after the Compton Pottery closed in the 1950s. Members of the Huxley family, including Aldous Huxley, are buried within the cemetery.

Cloister open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries

A cloister is a covered walk, open gallery, or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth. The attachment of a cloister to a cathedral or church, commonly against a warm southern flank, usually indicates that it is part of a monastic foundation, "forming a continuous and solid architectural barrier... that effectively separates the world of the monks from that of the serfs and workmen, whose lives and works went forward outside and around the cloister."

The Huxley family is a British family of which several members have excelled in science, medicine, arts, and literature. The family also includes members who occupied senior positions in the public service of the United Kingdom.

Aldous Huxley English writer and philosopher (1894-1963)

Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and philosopher. He authored nearly fifty books—both novels and non-fiction works—as well as wide-ranging essays, narratives, and poems.

The chapel is open Monday to Friday: 8am – 5pm, Saturday to Sunday and bank holidays: 10am – 5:30pm and is managed by the nearby Watts Gallery, celebrating the architect and her husband. There is no charge. [6]

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Mary Fraser Tytler British artist

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Compton, Guildford village and civil parish in the Guildford district of Surrey, England

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  1. 1 2 "Watts Chapel". Guildford Council. Archived from the original on 14 September 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  2. Nairn, Pevsner & Cherry 1971, p. 170.
  3. Historic England. "Watts Memorial Chapel (1029541)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  4. "Watts Chapel" . Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  5. "Compton Potter's Arts Guild". meridiangallery.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  6. "Watts Gallery -". wattsgallery.org.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2015.