'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
We have been granted permission by the Archdeacon of the Diocese of Guildford to commence exterior restoration works of the Watts Cemetery Chapel. This restoration project will help us to preserve this Grade I listed Arts & Crafts masterpiece, which was designed by Mary Watts in the late nineteenth century, for future generations. The works will be completed by an accredited conservation architect.
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.
On 1 July 1898, Watts Chapel was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester. It remains a working village parish chapel to this day.
Take our new 360° tour
Now before you visit us we are able to invite you to step into the Artists' Village and explore the Watts Chapel, as well as the Watts Studio and Mary Watts Gallery in our brand new free online virtual tour.
Step into the Artists' Village and explore...TAKE THE TOUR
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.
Watts Cemetery Records
Did you know author and Nobel Prize nominee Aldous Huxley is buried at Watts Cemetery? Huxley, who was born in Godalming and is best-known for his dystopian novel Brave New World (1931), is interred here in his family grave.
Mary McMahon, The Making of Mary Seton Watts
Mark Bills, An Artists' Village: G F Watts and Mary Watts at Compton
See Compton Parish Church's website for more information.