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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Physical Energy Surrey Residents Consultation

until
24 Nov

Curator's Choice Picture Talk

24 Nov

G F Watts: England's Michelangelo

until
26 Nov

Victorian Christmas Weekend

25 Nov
26 Nov

Helen Allingham Exhibition Tour

28 Nov

Curator's Choice Picture Talk

1 Dec

Guided Tours of Limnerslease

28 Nov
3 Dec

The Make Space

3 Dec

The Make Space

10 Dec