3 November 2013: The River Wey and the Watts Gallery

Pam led this circular walk from Guildford, starting by following the river Wey to the south of the town but then heading west on the North Downs Way. Our destination was the Watts Gallery and the nearby Watts Chapel at Compton.

George Watts (1817-1904) was a leading Victorian artist of the Symbolist movement — which means his paintings were all named for big ideas, like “Hope” and “Love and Life”. They were also just plain big. Some of us went round the gallery, but I had had enough on a previous visit. Still, the gallery’s cafe is good.

George Watts's "Hope"

George Watts’s “Hope”

The Watts Cemetery Chapel, perhaps surprisingly, is more fun. A masterpiece of the Arts and Crafts movement, it was designed by Watts’s wife Mary Seton Watts, but most of the work was done by more than seventy local villagers. The outside is made of richly decorated terracotta, while the interior design is on the theme of the tree of life.

The Watts Cemetery Chapel at Compton

The Watts Cemetery Chapel at Compton (Colin Smith / CC BY-SA 2.0)

We then walked back to the river, and Guildford, passing Loseley House and the Surrey police headquarters. There were a couple of places where the path was blocked by trees blown down in the gales, and we had to do a bit of crawling.



About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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