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