Spotlight on...Watts Gallery

  • 3 April 2012

Tucked away in a village near Guildford, the Watts Gallery is one of the hidden treasures of Britain's art scene. We tracked down the reclusive gallery to discuss Gladstone, rarebit and Marmalade.

Exterior of the Watts Gallery

Exterior of the Watts Gallery

Tucked away in a village near Guildford, the Watts Gallery is one of the hidden treasures of Britain's art scene. We tracked down the reclusive gallery to discuss Gladstone, rarebit and Marmalade…

Age: A wonderful 106 years old this year and ready for another century.

Describe yourself in three words: A national gallery in the heart of a village.

What is your most treasured possession? Our objects are all treasures to us, but a self-portrait painted when Watts was just 17 tells of a huge talent in waiting and shows him in his handsome and rakish youth.

Your most famous visitor is: Prime Minister Gladstone visited the Gallery in the early part of the century but surely our most famous visitors have been Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who opened the Gallery in May last year.

What is your best café creation? Our unique Watts Works Welsh Rarebit is a huge hit in our traditional Tea Shop and we are the only Gallery in the country to sell fresh free-range eggs and have done so for many years!

Any museum pets? Marmalade, the Watts Gallery cat, can be seen roaming the grounds and sneaking into the Gallery when no one is looking. He even has his own cuddly soft-toy for sale in the shop.

One thing that could make you better is... Opening the Watts’ home and studios to the public alongside Watts Gallery. It is across the lane to the Gallery and we are raising funds to try and secure it for the nation.

You have a museum crush on... Watts gave founding collections to Tate and the National Portrait Gallery and he saw Watts Gallery as part of this triad of galleries. This association continues in many ways today, for example the current Hall of Fame exhibition drawn from the National Portrait Gallery. So Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery are our crushes!

What do you most dislike about your appearance? We’ve had so many visitors we’ve had to instal temporary toilets to cope! New toilets are being built in the autumn of this year alongside a larger Tea Shop.

You’re most happy when… a visitor discovers the art of George Frederic Watts in the unique environment of the Arts & Crafts Gallery he created, falls in love with his work and then joins the Friends of Watts Gallery.


Tell the judges why Watts Gallery should win the Art Fund Prize 2012.

See the rest of the Art Fund Prize 2012 longlist.