G F and Mary Watts, Victorian artists and visionaries, built their home, Limnerslease, in the Surrey Hills amongst the breath-taking scenery of the Pilgrims' Way. The newly opened Watts Studios restores that sense of wonderment found at Limnerslease, bringing back the Wattses' vision of "Art for All" and adding a new and exciting element to the Artists' Village.
In the G F Watts Studio, the smell of oils and varnish fills the air, and strewn on desks are letters in the artist's own hand. Around the room are unfinished canvases displayed on easels or suspended from the rafters in this vast cathedral-like space. The recreation of Watts's studio transports the visitor back to his workspace, allowing them to explore the artistic processes of one of the 19th century's most eminent artists.
An entire gallery is devoted to the work of Mary Watts, displaying works of art never seen before alongside pieces delicately and painstakingly restored to their former glory, including the Aldershot Panels. Mary's personal thoughts and notes are present in the form of archival diaries, notebooks and films giving an insight into her life and life in the local community.
The Compton Gallery creates links between the Wattses and the local area, with a specially commissioned film charting the heritage of Limnerslease and its national cultural importance, introducing visitors to the Arts & Crafts house on the hill. Archival material and paintings of the Surrey landscape help complete the story of the Wattses' Artists' Village in Compton.