Watts Mortuary Chapel

The Watts Mortuary Chapel is a Gothic Revival chapel and mortuary located in the village of Compton in Surrey.

As a follower of the Home Arts and Industries Association, set up by Earl Brownlow in 1885 to encourage handicrafts among the lower classes, when Compton Parish Council created a new cemetery, local resident artist Mary Fraser-Tytler, the wife of Victorian era painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts, offered to design and build a new mortuary chapel. The chapel was the Wattses' contribution to this characteristically Victorian preoccupation with social improvement through creative enlightenment.

Leading a group of local amateurs and enthusiasts, many of whom later went on with Mary to found the Compton Potters' Arts Guild, it was constructed between 1896 and 1898 with virtually every village resident involved. Essentially circular, from the outside it has the look of a Roman Italianate Chapel; local villagers were invited to decorate the chapel under her guidance, resulting in an interior which is a merger of Angels and Arthurian Legend meets Edward Burne-Jones. Each member of Mary's evening class, led by Louis Deuchars, had a separate job, with 74 Compton villagers taking part. G. F. Watts paid for the project, and also painted a version of The All-Pervading for the altar only three months before he died.

The graves include Arts and Crafts movement type sayings, including "The Morning Stars Sang Together," and inside the chapel "Their hope is full of immorality but the soul of the righteous are in the hands of God."

Members of the Huxley family including Aldous Huxley are buried within the Chapel grounds.

The chapel is open between 9am and 5pm each day (closes at sunset in winter).

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com