With the sold-out guided tours on Heritage Open Days, the ten-day exhibition of work by Alexander Creswell attended by many people, and the wonderful sculpture on loan from William Pye enjoyed by many, Watts’s house and studio have become alive and partially available to the public in recent months. With every visitor, we ask the question “Should Limnerslease, Watts’s house and studio, be saved for the nation?” The answer is without exception “Yes”. For so many reasons – it completes the Watts story, it is an opportunity to show Mary Watts’s work and to interpret the Watts Chapel, it provides space to meet the growing needs of the Art for All Learning programme, it offers a retreat for artists to draw from the past to develop their work in to the future and finally it realises our dream to establish Compton as a centre for exploring Victorian art, social history and craft.

The fact that both private owners of the house and the studio of Limnerslease wish to sell at the same time, makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Trustees of Watts Gallery feel duty bound to seize the moment, but they need help. We were absolutely delighted and honoured that HRH The Prince of Wales has agreed to become Royal Patron of the Limnerslease Appeal. Artist Antony Gormley is our esteemed Arts Patron and has made a most generous gift. While there have already been generous pledges from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, the Peter Harrison Foundation, the George John and Sheilah Livanos Charitable Trust, the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, James and Clare Kirkman, Miklos and Sally Salamon, The De Laszlo Foundation, The Hazelhurst Trust and David Pike, there is still a long way to go. Watts Gallery Trust needs £1m to complete the purchase of the house, a further £2m for the restoration and £1m for activities. Where else in Britain can you find an artist’s legacy still in tact and still fulfilling its original purpose?

There is only one other nineteenth-century artist’s studio; there is no other hamlet which has a house, a studio, a pottery, a chapel, a hostel and a Gallery with a collection of international interest. Can we afford to lose Limnerslease, back to the oblivion of private ownership and allow further loss of its heritage and original purpose. We have a shared responsibility to save this house and studio which complete the Watts story for future generations to enjoy in perpetuity.

Related Material

Bibliography

Hunt, Perdita. “Limnerslease: An Artist’s Legacy.” Watts magazine 13 (Autumn 2011-Winter 2012): 11-12.


Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts George Frederic Watts paintings

Last modified 25 September 2012