No Terracotta Army this but a host of terracotta angels ringing the red brick chapel.
‘We’re going on a mystery tour,’ my friend said as she led me through the lych-gate and along the uneven brick path up the hill.
We passed under the arch of evergreen, juniper or yew – I’m not sure and came out to view the red brick circular building before us. Carved oak doors set in an arch of intricately modelled clay. She stepped into the dark and switched a dim light onto the most unusual interior I’ve ever seen.
I’d lost count by now of how many angels. More above and around us, standing on the Golden Girdle of the earth, amidst the Tree of Life with cherubims looking down from the roof, each face different.
The Art Deco style was interlaced with Celtic symbols and others too many to remember. This was the work of Mary Watts, wife of G.F. Watts, a famous Victorian painter. She was an artist in her own right and founded the Compton Potters’ Arts Guild. She rallied the people of Compton to help her build and decorate the Watts Chapel.
The cool interior and dim light must help protect the decor. Walls with plaques to Truth, Courage, Unity, Patience and more, as rich in symbolism (one of Mary’s specialities) as the deep greens, reds and golds which contrasted dramatically with the delicate faces around us.
Such an unusual place, too difficult to be consumed in one visit. The Watts Gallery will be opening later in the year, so I’m sure there will be another visit.
Thank you Sally.