The history of Watts Gallery

Throughout his life, G F Watts had commissioned a number of leading architects to design buildings for him. However, he selected a relatively unknown architect to design his picture gallery.

Christopher Hatton Turnor (1873–1940) was living within a mile of Compton with his parents and was thrilled to receive a commission from such an established artist. Watts's choice of Turnor reflected both his and Mary's ethos of supporting Arts & Crafts in the local community.

The building was constructed using Surrey tiles, and its foundation stone — a beautiful terracotta block — was laid by Watts on his eighty-sixth birthday. He lived to see the gallery open for only three months, passing away on 1 July 1904.

Watts's death sent shockwaves throughout the art world and had a devastating impact on the gallery, which Mary closed so that the collection might form the core of a large travelling memorial exhibition. This allowed Mary the opportunity to expand the gallery, allowing for the display of more works, something that Watts himself had wished for before his death.

Upcoming Events and Exhibitions

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Watts Collection Talks

10 Apr

The Make Space

12 Apr

Limnerslease Tours

12 Apr

De Morgan Collection Talks

13 Apr

Exhibition Tour: Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin

14 Apr

Visitors & Friends: The Wattses at Home

15 Apr

Volunteer Recruitment Event

15 Apr

Watts Collection Talks

17 Apr

Easter Holidays

19 Apr