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Watts Gallery's campaign to save Limnerslease receives Heritage Lottery Fund boost

PUBLISHED: 15:37 19 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:17 09 February 2015

Watts Gallery's campaign to save Limnerslease receives Heritage Lottery Fund boost

Watts Gallery's campaign to save Limnerslease receives Heritage Lottery Fund boost

Plans to save, Limnerslease, the Compton studio and house of the eminent Victorian artist George Frederic Watts received a boost today, thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This means that the Watts Gallery Trust can proceed with their funding plans for the Limnerslease Project, where they will be seeking £2.3m million of HLF support towards the £5 million project.  

“It is tremendous news for future generations that we can leave in tact a unique legacy of two remarkable visionaries, GF Watts and Mary Seton Watts,” says Perdita Hunt, director of Watts Gallery.

“The Gallery, the Pottery, the Chapel and now their studios will remain in safe keeping and open to the public in perpetuity. 

"Saving the Watts Studios and the return of Limnerslease will enable the Watts Gallery Trust to offer an international hub for exploring the Arts & Crafts movement through the eyes of GF Watts and Mary Watts, reaching new audiences and bringing even more visitors to Compton.”

Since 1938, Limnerslease – the only remaining artist’s house and studio designed by Ernest George, celebrated Arts & Crafts architect and tutor to Lutyens - has been in private ownership, with the property divided and modernised.

For the first time, both parts of Limnerslease are being offered for sale, presenting the Watts Gallery Trust with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the achievement and legacy of Watts and his wife.

The £5m project - which includes an endowment – will enable Watts Gallery Trust to restore Watts’ studio and recognise the contribution of Mary Seton Watts, through a permanent exhibition of her collection, her construction of the Grade 1 listed Watts Chapel, and her community involvement with 70 local people who built the chapel. 

The studio wing of Limnerslease will also house a conservation studio for an annual fellow from City & Guilds of London Art School and the Mary Watts Craft and Community Studio. There will also be an exhibitions gallery featuring exhibitions and archives on artists’ houses and studios.  

“Limnerslease is the final piece in the Watts Gallery jigsaw,” says Stuart McLeod, head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East. “We recognised that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Great Studio to be acquired and we applaud the Watts Gallery Trust for being so tenacious in pursuing this first step to securing full funding.”

Grade II listed Limnerslease was built between 1890 and 1891 and was lovingly decorated by its artist owners who received visits from many illustrious guests, including William Gladstone, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Baden-Powell. 

Saving the Watts studios will establish Compton as a unique artists’ village, providing a remarkable window on the Arts & Crafts movements and exploring Victorian art, social history, craft and design.

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