Victorian painter and Sculptor George Watts established his final home at Compton, a village near Guildford in Surrey. In addition to a substantial Arts and Crafts house he built a gallery and studio. Recently restored the Gallery is once again open to the public and now displays a large number of Watts' works to much better advantage. There are also a few personal items on display.
I enjoyed the paintings but very much part of the charm of this place is to be able to experience the surroundings in the idyllic village location. I enjoyed walking the same paths in summer sunshine imagining George and Mary Watts and their protegees following the same route and inspired by the pretty countryside around them. Watts' house is not actually visible and is in private hands but you can walk along the lane and pass its entrance, the lane is crossed by a bridge designed by Edwin Lutyens.
The gallery is a real gem of its period, the exterior very much following the purpose of the interior and with some subtle details like the green ceramic around the gallery windows.
Nearby is a true Gem in the shape of a tiny Chapel in the local cemetery. Watts' wife ran an apprentice scheme for artisan potters and her pupils all took part in the decoration of the Chapel, finished only months before Watts death. It is decorated in a style which is a confection of Art Nouveau, Celtic and other influences and the result is rich and colourful treasure of the Arts and Crafts movement.
For literary buffs a further point of interest is the grave of Aldous Huxley in the picture postcard perfect cemetery rolling down the hill on which stands the Chapel itself.
I found the whole setting and history enchanting, I suppose I thought it would be a wonderful place to have my bear making studio too. It does cost £7.50 to go into the gallery to see the paintings but there is a tea shop and it is an enchanting little spot to enjoy and soak up atmosphere even if you are not a fan of Watts' work. There is a web-link in my list of interesting websites.