The Surrey without a fringe on top.

Recently I was in west Surrey for a few days, and took the chance to revisit a few places (I’m originally from the area), and visit some new ones.  One new place was the Watts’ Mortuary Chapel in Compton.  Made between 1896 and 1898 it’s a bizarre Arts and Crafts building with every internal surface covered in decoration.

"Watts' Chapel ceiling" by Derek Gale

Inside the chapel was another photographer shooting HDR images with a Nikon D3 and tilt/shift lens, on a tripod.  I was travelling light so only had my Lumix GF1, 20mm lens and no tripod.  Luckily there was a lectern in the centre of the chapel and I was able to rest my camera on it pointing upwards.  I stopped the lens down to f5.6 to get enough sharpness, and this gave an exposure of 5 seconds.  I used the self-timer, set on a 2 second delay, so the camera stability wasn’t affected by pressing the shutter button.  What’s interesting is the flare coming from the chapel roof’s 4 windows.  They were very, very, bright compared to the interior, and it’s resulted in 4 blue areas.   The 20mm lens has no hood so it was hard to reduce the flare.  It adds a bit of mysterious glow to an image showing all the little faces looking at you – quite unsettling…

"Watts' tile" by Derek Gale

The outside is decorated with tiles made nearby and fired from a local clay.  They have very complex designs in what has been called, “Angels and Arthurian Legend meets Edward Burne-Jones”.  They were made by local villagers under the control of G F Watts’ widow Mary Fraser-Tylter.

A fascinating place, and great to photograph.

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