Library and archive

Our library and archive store publications, letters, photographs, diaries, sketchbooks and over 800 drawings created by George Frederic Watts and Mary Watts during their lifetime.

To visit our library and archive you must book an appointment. Where possible please let us know what material is required so that we can prepare in advance of your visit.

Photocopying facilities are also available at a charge. Due to the vulnerable nature of some of the books and materials, photocopying will not be available in all instances.

Charcoal sketch of bust of a woman turned away

More information


Our library brings together publications and thesis on all aspects of the life and work of George and Mary Watts and their circle. The library is a resource centre, as well as a tranquil place to learn more about the art of the time.

There are two reading rooms in the library; the John George Archive Room and the Seminar Room.

Highlights include:

  • Publications focusing on prominent themes in 19th-century art including periodicals, journals and catalogues such as The English Illustrated Magazine, Art Journal and Burlington Magazine.
  • A-Z of Victorian artists, a gift from the late Christopher Wood, an auctioneer, art dealer and author who devoted his career to promoting the arts and artists of the Victorian period.

The library has two reading rooms; the John George Archive Room and the Seminar Room.

Readers can access our complete library catalogue online.


The archive includes letters, photographs, diaries, sketchbooks and over 800 drawings.


  • Records of Watts Gallery from its foundation in 1904
  • George and Mary Watts's wills
  • Papers of Joseph Gillot (a major 19th-century art collector)
  • The history of Watts Gallery
  • Records of Watts Gallery Trust
  • Compton Village records
  • Oral history records
  • Historical records of Watts Cemetery Chapel
  • Historical records of Compton Potters' Arts Guild
  • Musical instruments
  • Precious stones