When Mary and George Frederic Watts came up with the name ‘Limnerslease’ for their Surrey home, they were thinking of a name appropriate for an artist’s (Limner’s) retreat where they could further their art work. It was also a pun on the word lease because they were doing exactly that until they bought it from the Hitchens. This has a strong echo for today when we are leasing Watts’s Great Studio. It is such a wonderful space where, if the spirit of the ‘Signor’ dwells anywhere, it is most certainly here. This is the very heart of the Watts’s in Compton, where they could, and we now can, look down at the work going on over at the Gallery. Here Watts was creating a living monument for posterity, leaving it in trust to further generations.
It was always Mary’s wish that after her death, the Curator of Watts Gallery would live at Limnerslease, and this, if only temporary, has happened. It is strange to live where Watts lived, it gives one a real sense and feel for the artist. It was and is a retreat and workplace. The Wattses used it in Autumn and Winter and whilst here went to bed early to rise at the crack of dawn, and there is something in the air that makes one want to follow this pattern.