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Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey GU3 1DQ

PUBLISHED: 15:20 19 July 2012 | UPDATED: 12:01 28 February 2013

Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey GU3 1DQ

Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey GU3 1DQ

An internationally famous collection of the work of GF Watts, the most celebrated artist of the Victorian age.

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2010

Watts Gallery

Down Lane, Compton, Guildford GU3 1DQ: 01483 810235
Opening times: The gallery information point and shop are currently open Tuesday to Friday, 11am-3pm; Saturday, 11am-5pm; and Sunday 1-5pm Curator: Mark Bills

What is the museum best-known for?
An internationally famous collection of the work of GF Watts, the most celebrated artist of the Victorian age.

Tell us your favourite local history story
The scrapes that the architect of Watts Gallery, Christopher Turnor, got into with his motor car in 1903 when he visited Watts. On one occasion, he ran into a horse in Guildford and on another jettisoned his passenger over a hedge into a nearby field after driving into a ditch. I can imagine him speeding to Watts rural Surrey idyll, a bowler hatted enthusiast visiting the Victorian artist whom he so admired.

Which is your favourite item in the collection?
Paolo and Francesca and its beautiful 18th century Italian frame. The painting has it all; beauty, drama and passion with all the big questions of life woven in. It is a most entrancing picture.

and the strangest?
Probably the death mask of GF Watts himself. He has such refined and gentle features looking at peace. It is recorded that in his last words he asked where the angels of death were. Either that, or a 3.2 ton, 18-foot plaster statue of a horse and rider on a railway track called Physical Energy. One of the very greatest sculptures of the 19th century.

Originally published in November 2010

Tennyson and Physical Energy return to Watts Gallery

In November 2010, the giant Physical Energy and Tennyson sculptures were returned to their home at Watts Gallery. Each weighing about three tons, these essentially plaster sculpturesare both extremely fragile. A further complication arose when Tennysonproved too tall to fit under the cross beams of the sculpture gallery, meaningit had to be lowered to a 40 degree angleto move him into his new home.

Video: Pete Gardner

Originally published in February 2010

Hope on the horizon for Watts Gallery in Compton

Economic pressures may have put paid to the chances of Watts Gallery reopening to visitors this year, and have left the restoration project with a 250,000 shortfall, but there is, however, light at the end of the tunnel.

With the Watts Gallery Trustees announcing that a new building contractor, Blenheim House Construction, has been appointed to continue the restoration of the gallery, work is set to resume immediately.

The Hope Project will be completed by the end of this year and we hope to reopen to our visitors and supporters in the first half of 2011, says Perdita Hunt, director of Watts Gallery, which celebrates the life and works of Victorian artist GF Watts. We thank everybody for their patience, support and understanding.

I hope that many will be able to visit during the year for a hard-hat tour to witness progress, make new discoveries and attend events; as well as enjoy the refreshments provided by the restored tea shop, which re-opens at Easter.

Originally expected to reopen this year, the collapse of the original contractor into administration in August 2009 has seen delays mount up.

Those delays to the project and the loss of income has created extra costs of over 1m and, while the Watts Gallery has met some of these extra costs with help from some generous funders, there is still a shortfall of 250,000 to meet the emergency Hope appeal target.

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