Mary Watts Chapel,Surrey,U.K.

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the doors to the chapel

“A painted surface is a real, living form.” – Kazimir Malevich

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Watts Chapel

‘It is no exaggeration to say the Watts Cemetery Chapel is one of the most beautiful, extraordinary, original, marvellous and magical buildings in the whole of the British Isles!’ — Lucinda Lambton

Landscape, art and remembrance are beautifully blended together in this Grade I listed building. Visitors are drawn to the bright red brick of this Arts & Crafts masterpiece. Up close, the extraordinary design and decoration both fascinate and overwhelm all who venture up the winding yew tree paths.

Mary Watts was the artistic force behind the creation of Watts Chapel, and she dedicated it to ‘the loving memory of all who find rest near its walls, and for the comfort and help of those to whom the sorrow of separation remains.’ G F and Mary Watts both rest in Watts Cemetery, as do many other people who have played a role in the Artists’ Village over the years.

In 1895 Mary began to run evening Terracotta Classes at Limnerslease, the Wattses’ nearby residence and studio. At these classes Mary would teach local villagers how to model tiles from local terracotta clay with the beautiful and symbolic patterns that she had designed to decorate the walls of the Chapel.

G F Watts financed the building of the Chapel through painting commissioned portraits, and the Wattses presented it as their gift to the village of Compton. Watts Chapel remains a working village parish chapel to this day.

Further reading

Watts Chapel: A Guide to the Symbols of Mary Watts’s Arts and Crafts Masterpiece

The Making of Mary Seton Watts by Mary McMahon

An Artists’ Village: G F Watts and Mary Watts at Compton by Mark Bills

Compton Parish Church

Watts Cemetery

Watts Cemetery, which surrounds Watts Chapel, is more than 120 years old and was conceived and laid out by Mary Watts between 1895 and 1898 with the help of Compton Parish Council.

Watts Cemetery has been added to the Register of Parks and Gardens at a Grade II* listing by English Heritage, the second highest grade that can be bestowed, meaning it is protected from inappropriate development. The exceptional Arts & Crafts gravestones and cloister give the space a unique and emotive atmosphere. With much thanks to Beauty of the Arts

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It’s All Over Now Baby Blue! -Nostalsia

 

Have you had moments when your past just floods over you and for a split second you are back there in another time? Time and space at such moments, I find disappear, as I actually relive my past. The other day I was listening to Peter, Paul and Mary and the song, “Early Morning Rain” played. I seemed to lose all consciousness of being in the  “here and now”for suddenly, i was back at Dulles airport in Reston, Va, USA -waiting for the plane that would take my little baby daughter and me back to London.

 

It was a deadfully chaotic evening I remember.  Leanne was quite upset and cying. The stormy weather, so bad, the plane had been held up somewhere due to a broken window pane. All the passengers looked tired and anxious. I remember nothing more of that night but that one scene. For some odd reason it is frozen in my memory. There would be many trips back to London in the coming eight years and most were pretty chaotic.

 

Reston, Va. (Virgina) was a fabulous place to live back then. It had a charm and even an innocence that I am sure has faded over the years. I remember my introduction to everything spiritual came from the hippy-type community who lived in around Reston in those days. I met so many now famous people (in the spiritual sense)  in those years there and attended many insightful workshops and events, that were to carve out a spiritual “life” jouney, I could never have imagined at the time.

 

We often visited Georgetown’s Yes bookshop on a Sunday afternoon.  It was an esoteric bookshop full of  New Age teachings and others too from the East. My mind just boggled at the sight of those marvellous books, filled with mystery and adventure. My curiosity ran wild as I looked through books on Yoga, Philosophy, Astral Travel, Reincarnation and those books that promised to predict the future.

 

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Not  the original as we knew it

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It was on one of our visits to the Yes bookshop that I was introduced to Sai Baba. Looking back at how that happened, now makes me smile and wonder just how much of a coincidence it was. I stood in one of the dark aisles looking through books written by Lobsang Rampa who happened to be very popular at the time, when a young man tapped me on the shoulder. I quickly turned around to look into the face of the most handsome man one could imagine meeting. My eyes popped. He smiled sweetly. Then, in an easy style, he said, “Oh I see you are reading rubbish!.”  I was shocked by his assessment  of my reading material and with a shy answer I said I did not think the books were rubbish. “Oh yes they are” came his reply. “Let me show you something better.” He smiled again and led me to another book-aisle. He paused for awhile in front of shelves of books on Indian Philosophy. Then, with another smile, he pulled out a small paperback book – looking all old and tatty. He handed it to me and said, “This is an excellent book.” The title of the book was Man of Miracles. The cover portrayed a little man in an orange dress with a very large afro hairdo. I wasn’t impressed. I tried putting it back on the shelf but the young man insisted I buy it. I told him no. I could not afford it. He then replied, “I will buy it for you.” I smiled at his insistence to buy the book for me. He told me briefly that this book would change my life and that would be a good thing. I surrendered to his wish and we both walked over to the counter, where he paid for the book and handed it to me. Before he left, he wrote in the back of the book, the name and address of a group of people who could tell me more about Sai Baba. The address was Bethesda Maryland. With that he left the bookshop so much to my dismay. To be honest I was more interested in him, than the book!

I took the book home and placed it in the bookcase but i never read it. It was not until years later, when we were in Australia, that a chance meeting with a lady from the Findhorn Society, that the name Sai Baba came up again. She’d just returned from a long visit to his ashram and had many experiences to share.

 

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“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.”  -Amy Bloom

 

 

 

Reston - back then

Reston – back then

 

 

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Wolf Trap – the one we knew and loved was burned down in the early 1980s

Lake Anne as I remember it.

Lake Anne as I remember it.

 

 

T he J. Plaza, Reston where we lived for sometime.

T he J. Plaza, Reston where we lived for sometime.

 

 

My usual place to sit and eat ice-cream

My usual place to sit and eat ice-cream

Music was so much part  of our lives in Reston

 

 

Leanne growing up in Reston, Va.

Leanne growing up in Reston, Va.