Posted 10 March 2016 by Andrew Gardner
If you're self-catering in West Sussex, the Watts Gallery at Compton is quite close by and makes a fascinating excursion. I don't think you need to be an art or Victoriana enthusiast to appreciate this extraordinary collection and studio that belonged to the artist George Frederick Watts and his wife Mary, but you'll surely come away with a new insight.
For many people, the unique chapel with its murals is the high point - I found it quite surreal, and although the painting is completely Victorian somehow the overall effect is not. You really should see it for yourself! I loved the studios, and everyone raves, quite rightly I think, about the tea rooms. I'm really glad the Limnerslease project has been able to work towards saving the Arts & Crafts house (and studio) commissioned by the Watts and designed by Sir Ernest George - the house reminds me of Standen, near East Grinstead, which was designed by the architect Philip Webb and was really ahead of its time.
But back to Limnerslease - there are guided tours of the house three times a week starting this month, and if you love walking as well as art and architecture, note that it's on the Pilgrims' Way, so you could easily plan a route to take it in (sadly it's not wheelchair-accessible at present).
Another fascinating house with wonderful landscaped gardens and plenty of walking opportunities nearby is Churchill's former home, Chartwell, at Westerham - also easily accessible by car from Sussex. This year's early Easter means many of these places are opening a little earlier than usual, so we get a chance to see the grounds in a different light. And if the daffodils came out early this spring, who knows what the landscape will look like even next week. We may not be able to offer you a historic mansion to stay in, but we can offer you a wide variety of self-catering options including cottages for large groups (click here to view). So there's one way to find out...