A Victorian Christmas at Valentines Mansion

The excitement is building at Valentines Mansion – it’s almost time for our Victorian Christmas weekend! The house has been decorated and looks amazing, now the countdown begins for this very special weekend!

Taking place on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December, visitors can enjoy Christmas gift stalls, artists open studios, children’s activities, festive music, refreshments, raffles and plenty more!

Talented local crafters will be selling a variety of handmade gift ideas, including artisan chocolates, local honey, home décor and beautiful yet affordable handmade jewellery. 

Venture to the top floor where you can visit the studios of local artists.  You’ll get to meet the makers, watch demonstrations, and even try your hand at silk painting!  If you love giving unique gifts, you’re in for a treat! Our artists practice a variety of creative disciplines, from stained glass and ceramics to award-winning basketry and silk painting. Read more about the Valentines Mansion Studio Artists

Fused glass Christmas trees by Valentines Mansion studio artist Amanda Seljubac

For children, traditional arts and crafts will take place in the Victorian Kitchen.  Choose from festive gingerbread decorating on Saturday and and Christmas cracker making on Sunday, both have limited availability and need to be pre-booked. Free face painting will be available for the little ones on Sunday only.

PLUS! Meet Victorian characters in costume and see what Christmas dinner would have looked like for the families that once lived at Valentines many, many Christmas’s ago, courtesy of The Friends of Valentines Mansion.

To top it all off, we’ve got some brilliant prizes to be won – something the children will love and treats for grown ups too!

A Victorian Christmas at Valentines Mansion, Saturday 3rd December (12pm-9pm) and Sunday 4 December (12pm-6pm). Free entry.

Nearest tube Gants Hill on Central Line (5 min walk) and Ilford on Elizabeth Line (10 min walk). Car park on site, charges apply.

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Are you ready for a spooktacular half-term at Valentines Mansion?

Head over to Valentines Mansion with the little ones this half term (if you dare!) for some seriously spooky activities!

Monday 24 October, 2pm-3pm – have fun making a mini puppet theatre complete with terrifying characters to take home.  ‘Spooky Puppets’ is suitable for 5-8 year olds, £5 per child and must be pre-booked. 

On Thursday 27 October, drop in for some free storytelling.  With two sessions, one in the morning at 11am for smaller children aged between 3-5, and another round of ‘Terrifying tales’ at 3pm for ages 5-8.

Make decorations for your home in time for Halloween in the ‘Ghoulish Garlands’ activity on Sunday 30 October.  Complete with bats, ghosts and pumpkins, you’ll be the envy of the street!  2pm-3pm, 3 years plus, £5 per child and must be pre-booked. 

For ticketed events visit www.thelittleboxoffice.com/valentines

www.valentinesmansion.com

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Diwali at Valentines Mansion

Head over to Valentines Mansion as it celebrates Diwali, the Festival of Lights on Sunday 23 October

A fun day out for all the family – children can make their own colourful Diwali card to take home between 10.30am-4pm.  No booking is required, just drop in and pay £3 cash at the door.

At 2pm and 3pm, visitors will be treated to a very special performance courtesy of the Sakthi Fine Arts Group.  The youth dance group, with members aged between 7-16 years, will perform the Bharatha Natyam, a 3000 year old ancient Indian classical dance form traditionally performed in Temples, fused with modern Bollywood music. 

Sakthi Fine Arts Group

The performances will take place outside the Mansion, under the buildings’ historic Porte Cochere, with the chance for the public to get involved too.

Choreographed and taught by the leader of the youth dance group, Anusha Sajeev, she commented “Our youth dancers are thrilled and excited to be performing at Valentine’s Mansion for this year’s Diwali celebrations. This is a great opportunity to share this beautiful art form with the residents of Redbridge especially after not performing to a wider audience since the pandemic.”

Diwali at Valentines Mansion, Sunday 23 October, 10.30am-4pm

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Valentines Mansion Introduces New Twilight Ceremonies

Make your special day even more memorable with the new twilight ceremonies at Valentines Mansion. 

Perfect for couples dreaming of a fairy tale winter wedding, the new offer is available between October and March and transforms the mansion into a magical space to take your vows in.

Choose from either the Drawing Room or The Morning Room, both decorated beautifully with candles for the most romantic of ceremonies, and features a stunning light arch for you to stand hand-in-hand by. 

The beautiful and historic balcony in the Drawing Room, ideal for ceremonies with up to 70 guests, comes alive with stunning lights – another picturesque spot for photographs of your big day.

As an added bonus, you’ll not only get extra time compared to a daytime ceremony, but you’ll also have the grand staircase to yourself, adorned with candles and ivy for you to capture picture perfect memories on.

For full details, visit www.valentinesmansion.com or call 020 8708 8100.

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Valentines Park, Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel and the Romans!

July fact:  Researching the history of Valentines always leads us to discover more fascinating facts about wider history and the importance of London to the people who lived and passed through here. 

On 26th July 1768, Charles Welstead, who would buy Valentines forty years later in 1808, was christened in St Mary’s Church, Whitechapel.  After moving in, Charles Welstead set to altering the layout of the house in a major way, changing the orangerie into a dairy wing/kitchen and building the Porte Cochere in 1810 as a much grander entrance for carriages, on the opposite side of the house to the previous front door.  In Welstead’s time, the Porte Cochere as seen here, only had six columns until the Ingleby extension around 1871.

In the 14th century, St Mary’s Church on Whitechapel Road was covered in a lime whitewash, which is what gave the church and area its name. It cannot be visited today as the church was severely damaged during the Blitz, but its location and graveyard is now a public garden, renamed Altab Ali Park in 1998 in memory of a British Bangladeshi clothing worker, murdered in 1978 by three teenage boys as he walked home from work in Brick Lane.

Altab Ali Park Entrance

At the entrance to the park is an arch, developed as a memorial to Altab Ali and other victims of racist attacks, the complex Bengali-style pattern symbolising the merging of different cultures in East London.  Along the path are letters spelling out “The shade of my tree is offered to those who come and go fleetingly“, a fragment of a poem by Bengali poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.  Born in Calcutta in 1861, this “Bard of Bengal” is the author of “Jana Gana Mana”, the Indian national anthem.  “Amar Shonar Bangla” was also written by Tagore in 1905 as an ode to Mother Bengal, immediately after Bengal’s first partition. Later, in 1971, the first 10 lines of the song were adopted as Bangladesh’s national anthem.

My golden Bengal, thee I love.

Forever thy skies be, thine air like a flute set my heart in tune;

O Mother, aroma of mango orchard in Falgun driveth me crazy,

Ah, such miraculousness!

O Mother, time seeth in Ogrohayon smiles sweet all through fields of paddy.

What beauty, what shades, what affection, what tenderness;

What a quilt thou hast spread at tip of banyans ‘long ev’ry bank,

O Mother, words from thy lips like nectar to my ears.

Ah, such miraculousness!

If sadness, o mother, cast a gloom on thy face, my eyes filled with tears.

Amar Shonar Bangla, by Rabindranath Tagore

18th Century London

Charles Welstead as a young man worked as Collector of Customs Duties at Trinity House, just to the west of the Tower of London.  On this 1768 baptismal record (below), Charles Welstead’s parents are shown as living in Prescot Street in an area NE of the Tower of London, near Aldgate called Goldman’s Fields, first developed in 17th century by Sir William Leman.  He used family names to identify the streets, naming Prescot Street after his mother, Rebecca Prescot.  Alie Street on the northern side, Leman Street to the east, Prescot Street to the south, and Mansell Street to the West were built while Goodman’s Fields was used as a tenterground, an area used for drying newly manufactured cloth after fulling. The wet cloth was hooked onto frames called “tenters” and stretched taut so that the cloth would dry flat and square, giving rise to today’s expression, “on tenterhooks”. 

John Roque’s map of 1746 shows Leman Street as Lemon Street
1768 baptismal record

Roman Burials

Prescot Street lies close to the centre of what is known as the site of the East London Roman Cemetery in Aldgate. The Whitechapel Road, now the A11, followed the section of the Roman road between Londinium (London) and Camulodunum (Colchester).  A Roman burial was also discovered at Valentines soon after it became the property of Robert Surman in 1724. The noted antiquarian Smart Lethieullier of Aldersbrook House came to see the site on 30 Oct that year and made careful records of an inhumation in a stone coffin and a cremation in an urn discovered on what is the north-east side of the park today in the former mini-golf course next to Perth Road.

Georgina Green/Diana Smith. July 2022

Brought to you by the Friends of Valentines Mansion

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Volunteering at Valentines Mansion

If you’re looking for something to do with your spare time and you’re interested in giving back to the community, then volunteering at Valentines Mansion could be just perfect for you. 

Situated in the beautiful Valentines Park, our historic building is open to the public every Sunday and Monday, with several restored period rooms for visitors to enjoy.  Since opening to the public in 2009, hundreds of thousands of people have coming through the doors, eager to step back in time and explore the vast history of the Mansion, its people and its architecture.

Our volunteers are key in ensuring our visitors have an enjoyable experience – by welcoming visitors and offering advice & facts on the Mansion and it’s 320 plus years of history.

Here we talk with one of our newest recruits, Uma Pandya, a former teacher, on why she chose to become one of our valued volunteers:

Uma Pandya, a Valentines Mansion Volunteer

Why did you choose to volunteer at Valentines Mansion?

I wanted to volunteer ‘locally’ near where I live, within walking distance.  I had been to an ‘open house’ at the Mansion after it had been renovated with my young daughter and we were incredibly impressed with what we saw and learnt about its rich and fascinating history! 

What do you enjoy most about your time at Valentines Mansion?

I enjoy welcoming the visitors to Valentines Mansion, who are not only captivated by its interesting history, but also impressed by the renovation and restoration works.  So many of the visitors reminisce and share their wonderful childhood memories of many of the artefacts in the scullery which their grandparents used!  Listening to these priceless stories, I feel, is what makes the Mansion come ‘alive’ and it’s a joy to meet so many enthusiastic people who also value our local history.

I also thoroughly enjoy working with the other volunteers at the Mansion from whom I continue to learn a lot. I have also much appreciated the warm welcome, induction and support from the staff as well as from members of the Friends of Valentines Mansion.

Have you had any memorable moments so far?

Yes!  Most notably I was honoured to have a chance meeting at the Mansion with local historian, Georgina Green who has done an incredible amount of research and written books on Valentines Mansion and many of its past residents, some of whom had trading links with Asia , the Far East and the Americas, and its relevance to today.

Another memorable moment springs to mind – on my very first day of volunteering at the Mansion, a childminder with three very young children aged approximately 3 visited the building.  As we walked up the grand staircase and I pointed out the very large and colourful stained-glass window.  One of the young children stood, spell bound and gazing at it in amazement and letting out, ‘Wow!…..’it’s like a rainbow.’  This response from such a young child was an awe and wonder moment for me. Valentines Mansion seems to capture visitors of ALL ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. 

Are you interested in becoming a Valentines Mansion volunteer? If so, get in touch by emailing hiringvalentines@visionrcl.org.uk or call us on 020 8708 8100.

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Royal Connections June 1782

King George III lived for 81 years and 239 days and reigned for 59 years and 96 days: both his life and his reign were longer than those of any of his predecessors and subsequent kings. Only Queens Victoria and Elizabeth II have lived and reigned longer.

Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough of Queen Charlotte (1781), her three eldest daughters (1784) and King George III (copy of Gainsborough’s portrait of 1781, attributed to Gainsborough’s nephew, Gainsborough Dupont)

On June 5th 1782, Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-great-great grandfather, George III was celebrating his birthday and Charles Raymond of Valentine House was highlighted – in the Public Advertiser (London) – as present at the King’s birthday party.  “The Drawing Room was uncommonly crowded… at St James’s… the Queen was magnificently attired, the King in a dress that was plain.  The Prince of Wales was very splendid…” (Friends of Valentines Mansion newsletter April 2011). 

The Northampton Mercury of 11th June 1782 provided a more detailed description of the Royal attire.  “Her Majesty (Queen Charlotte) was in lilac and silver of a wavy pattern.   The Princess Royal’s was the same pattern, on a pink ground, but so superbly ornamented with fringe, silver crape, foil, flowers and other appendages, that no description can do it justice.  The Princess Sophia’s was a pale primrose colour, of the same quality as the two here, but differently trimmed; the ornaments were chiefly of Ruby and other coloured Foil, relieved with a delicate silver crape and small tassels etc…. His Majesty as is usual on his own Birth-Day, wore a plain coat, a kind of lead colour, with steel buttons and loops, with a rich brocade waistcoat.”

The King’s three eldest daughters (Charlotte b 1766, Augusta b 1768 and Elizabeth b 1770) would have been 16, 14 and 12 when attending this birthday party.  One wonders if the Northampton paper’s “royal correspondent” had wrongly identified the Princess Sophia as she was only 5 years old in 1782?  After all there were no less than fourteen royal children’s names to remember, with a fifteenth child, Princess Amelia, born in 1783. 

Charles and Sarah Raymond had three daughters who grew up at Valentines:  Sophia a toddler, Juliana born the year they moved in and Anna Maria born two years later in 1756.  Lady Sophia Burrell (née Raymond) with her fashionable yet restrained and elegant hairstyle, pictured here courtesy of Sir Charles Burrell, will feature in the improvements the Friends of Valentines Mansion are making to the Raymond Room this year.  Watch this space!

Find out more about the Friends of Valentines Mansion here.

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The Wreck of The Wager, 14th May 1741

On 14th May 1741, an East Indiaman ship The Wager, acting as an armed support vessel, was wrecked off the Patagonian coast of South America.  Charles Raymond, owner of Valentines from 1754-1788 had made two trips to India and back as captain of  this ship.  This was a dangerous business.  The crew of an East Indiaman leaving England would total about 100 men, with maybe 20 more signing on during the voyage.  On average 15 men would die and ten men would leave the ship, either with or without the Captain’s permission.  On his first voyage as Captain aboard the Wager in 1735, Charles Raymond was beset by illness and 16 of his men died, including most of his senior officers. 

After the second voyage to India, The Wager was bought by the Navy for a venture in South America and Raymond would captain a new ship for his trips to India.  

Sailing around Cape Horn the Navy fleet had set sail, to plunder the coasts of Chile and Peru and capture the Spanish Galleon with its cargo of silver suggested to be worth £2,000,000.  This plan did not end well.  1400 out of 1900 men died.  Survivors of the wreck found themselves marooned on a desolate island in the middle of a Patagonian winter.  Amazingly, a few of these men did successfully row 2,500 miles to reach England again!  To this very day, the site of the shipwreck is known as Wager Island. 

As The Wager was founding on the rocks, over 8,000 miles away at Valentines, widowed owner and city banker Robert Surman was adding some fashionable features (a Canal Head Grotto) to the Long Water (or Canal), dug soon after he moved into the house.  His daughter, “Sally” Sarah Surman was of similar age to Earl Tylney of Wanstead’s sister Dorothy Child and moving in the same social circle, we can imagine Robert Surman wanting Valentines to keep up with improvements at nearby Wanstead House.  When Charles Raymond moved in 14 years later, he would continue to develop the historic gardens. 

About 15 years ago, an expedition was put together to find the wreck of The Wager in the Gulf de Penas.  After a month of searching it was realised that a series of earthquakes had changed the western coastline of South America more than previously thought, but that is another story! 

You can read more seafaring stories about Sir Charles Raymond’s six voyages to India in Georgina Green’s book Sir Charles Raymond of Valentines and the East India Company, including details of the wreck of his ship, The Valentine on her way back from India.  The Friends of Valentines Mansion’s current project is to develop the Raymond Room, or Parlour, into a Cabinet of Curiosities, reflecting more stories from this 18th century owner of Valentines. 

Sir Charles Raymond of Valentines and the East India Company

Brought to you by the Friends of Valentines Mansion.

If you would like to be involved, please consider joining the Friends of Valentines .  We are particularly interested to hear from anyone wanting to share knowledge of 18th Century India, in particular Chennai (Madras), Kolkata (Calcutta) and Mumbai (Bombay). 

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What is the name of Sarah Ingleby’s dog?

Sarah Ingleby was the last private owner of Valentines Mansion and resided here until she sadly passed in January. You can read about her life here.

Sarah Ingleby, last private owner of Valentines Mansion, Ilford, Essex

We know much about Sarah, but what was the name of her dog, who appears in the photo above?

A tantalising clue appears in a poem composed by her husband Clement for their little daughter Clementina, on her finding a stone on the beach, during a no doubt chilly March trip to Bournemouth, shaped like the head and shoulders of a doll. 

Dr Clement Mansfield Ingleby was chiefly known as a Shakespeare scholar and author, so this poem offers a delightful insight into his sense of fun and fondness for children and animals. 

Find out more about the history of Valentines Mansion on The Friends of Valentines Mansion web site.

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Create Your Own Piece of History and Say ‘I Do’ at Valentines Mansion

Steeped in over 300 years of history, Valentines Mansion is a beautiful venue.  Built in 1696 for the widow if the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Mansion has been home to many families over the years.  Today, the Mansion and its restored rooms can be hired for a whole host of events, including weddings and ceremonies. Here’s a brief look at our ceremony rooms and the individual uniqueness they offer.

The Drawing Room

Let’s start at the top…the Drawing Room.  Our largest room located on the 1st floor of the Mansion was historically a library and sitting room.  During the occupation of the Ingleby’s in the mid-1800s, this room would have boasted tall dark bookcases and opulent seats for the residents of the Mansion. Today, this stunning room is licenced for ceremonies.  Take your vows with 70 of your nearest and dearest, and capture beautiful photos of your special day in our largest room.  The room also features a romantic balcony with a stained glass window dating back to the early 1800s, and two ornate fireplaces.

The Morning Room

Located on the ground floor, the Morning Room would have been a very busy room in the days when the Mansion was occupied, with the families using this space during the day to attend to correspondence, read the newspaper and instruct the servants in their daily tasks.

Today, you can create your own piece of history in this lovely room.  Licenced for ceremonies, the Morning room holds up to 40 guests, and with its beautiful bay window overlooking the gardens and park, it’s the perfect room for you to say ‘I Do’.

The Holcombe Room

During the 1800’s, this fabulous room would have been the breakfast area for the Welstead Family.  With panelling dating back to the Victorian times, French doors opening on to a lovely terrace and an elaborate chimneypiece, this stylish room is now licenced for ceremonies. 

Ideal for intimate gatherings, the room has a capacity for up to 6 guests and offers beautiful views across the historic gardens and park. 

To hire Valentines Mansion, simply give us a call on 020 8708 8100 – the office is open every Monday – Friday, 10am-6pm.  Alternatively, visit our web site www.valentinesmansion.com where you’ll find all you need on pricing and capacities plus a gallery of images, as well as a contact form to get in touch.

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