Not really a blog. . . 

 I'm tempted to call these pages 'occasional ramblings'. I've always shied away from blogging in the full sense as it seems to me it could become rather addictive! We'll see. Should anyone reading this wish to comment, please send your thoughts to the address at the bottom of the page and I'll add them in.

 August 2016: Watts Chapel, Surrey.

In 1896 the small Surrey village of Compton laid out a new cemetery. Nearby lived two distinguished artists, Mary Watts (nee Fraser-Tytler) and her husband George Frederic Watts, and Mary decided to use the talent of the villagers to create a mortuary chapel. Mary had been running evening classes in the village for some years, with particular emphasis on terracotta pottery. Led by Mary, Almost all of the villagers were involved in creating the chapel.  The result has been described by the architectural writer Lucinda Lambton as ‘one of the most beautiful, extraordinary, original, marvellous and magical buildings in the whole of the British Isles.'

  The art of the chapel is very representative of art-nouveau, strongly influenced by Celtic art.

The interior of the church, a Byzantine-like dome, represents the angelic heirarchy of Heaven, with images of angels intertwined with the Tree of Life.  There are four large panels, each dominated by a seraph. Mary Watts tells us that they show four different qualities; the gifts of nature,  the gifts of God,  the joys and sorrows of mankind, and the gifts of endeavour.

The terracotta panels on the outside of the church were made by the villagers of Compton, including children. Here is one of the four large friezes; this one, from the south-east side, shows the spirit of hope.

The door is surrounded by terrcotta panels. This one (right, below) represents 'the flower that closes with the setting sun, and opens again when darkness is passed'. The door itself was carved by the local wheelwright, and the ironwork was forged by the blacksmith, for a fee of twenty-one pounds and five shillings.

Previous blogs:

June 2016: Churches of Suffolk

May 2016: Monte Cassino

January 2016: Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, Winchester Cathedral

October 2015: the Holy Land

July 2015: Derbyshire Churches

May 2015: Assisi

March 2015: Cologne and Aachen.

October 2014: The Sistine Chapel - in Worthing!

October 2014: Relics and the like

September 2014: Puglia

July 2014: Nether Wallop

April 2014: The World's best portraits?

April 2014: Umbria - is it really Giotto?

March 2014: Fake or Fortune


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