The Watts Cemetery Chapel or Watts Mortuary Chapel is a chapel in an Art Nouveau version of Celtic Revival style in the village cemetery of Compton in Surrey. While the overall architectural structure is loosely Romanesque Revival, in the absence of any appropriate Celtic models, the lavish decoration in terracotta relief carving and paintings is Celtic Revival, here seen on an unusually large scale. According to the local council, it is “a unique concoction of art nouveau, Celtic, Romanesque and Egyptian influence with Mary’s own original style”. Other responses have been less positive. Ian Nairn, in the 1971 Surrey volume of the Buildings of England series, described the interior as “one of the most soporific rooms in England” and regretted “the intolerable torpor and weariness of the motifs”. It is a Grade I listed building.
When Compton Parish Council created a new cemetery, local resident artist Mary Fraser-Tytler, the wife of Victorian era painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts, offered to design and build a new mortuary chapel. The Wattses had recently build a house, “Limnerslease”, a few hundred yards away, now part of the Watts Gallery. Tytler was a follower of the Home Arts and Industries Association, set up by Earl Brownlow in 1885 to encourage handicrafts among the lower classes, and the chapel was the Wattses’ contribution to this characteristically Victorian preoccupation with social improvement through creative enlightenment.