Mary Spencer Watson: Purbeck Sculptor
Growing up among the quarrymen, Mary Spencer Watson’s life (1913-2006) was rooted in the Isle of Purbeck. For most of her life, she lived and worked at Dunshay Manor, an ancient house built of the stone she carved. She was the child of artistic parents, George and Hilda Spencer Watson, who expressed themselves in different media, but it was stone and wood that spoke to Mary and from her mid teens she instinctively became a vocational sculptor. Her output was prolific and her influences diverse, from the primitive forms of archaic Greece to the truth to materials of the Arts and Crafts movement. Her method was to carve direct, her work is at once earthy and ethereal. Dunshay Manor and the community it supported was the anchor in Mary’s life, and when she died in 2006, she bequeathed the house to the Landmark Trust to allow others to enjoy it and to celebrate its artistic legacy.
Caroline Stanford has been Historian to the Landmark Trust since 2001. She first worked on Eleanor Coade as a member of the Landmark project team during the restoration of Coade’s seaside villa, Belmont in Lyme Regis, completed in 2015. She has now embarked on a part-time DPhil on Fired Artificial Stone 1650-1850, looking at the wider context and contribution of the material to architecture in the long eighteenth century.