Feathers and Petals Create Exhibition Masterpiece

This summer, in the year which marks ten years since the restoration of Valentines Mansion, our studio artists will be coming together for a special exhibition which opens at the beginning of August. For “Decade”, each of the artists will showcase a piece in their individual specialisms, be it painting, ceramics or fused glass or other.

Jason Rose, a painter, has created something completely unique which celebrates the history of Valentines Mansion in an innovative and interesting way. Using natural materials found in the Mansion’s gardens, such as petals, twigs, blossoms and feathers, he has created an organic painting made entirely of gifts offered by Valentines Gardens. And what makes this creation all the more special is the subject matter of the artwork.

A secretary bird is the chosen concept for Jason’s exhibit, for this his snake-eating exotic creature, native to Africa, once roamed Valentines Gardens. During the in the mid-17th century, when Sir Charles Raymond resided at Valentines, it is though the retired East India Company ship’s captain adorned the Mansion and it’s gardens with imports from the East, one of which included this impressive bird of prey.
“I felt this exotic bird would be an ideal subject for my piece – fusing the Mansion of today with the Mansion of yesterday.

It was no easy task creating this masterpiece and took over two months from start to finish, from originally collecting the materials from the gardens to adding the finishing touches. But it was a process Jason enjoyed thoroughly.

Picking feathers from Valentines Gardens

Picking organic material from Valentines Gardens

“It was lovely to be out in the beautiful Mansion gardens collecting material. It was a satisfying process – separating all the materials into different tones and seeing the image come alive. I love the idea of a changing organic image – some of the flowers such as the dandelions have been pressed to keep their colour. Other flowers and elements will change colour.”

Work in progress

The artwork will be on display in the Mansion’s Gallery as part of the Studio Artists Exhibition “Decade”, every Sunday to Wednesday between the 4th & 28th August, free entry.

For more information, visit http://www.valentinesmansion.com

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Traditional Crafts Make A Comeback to Valentines Mansion

As Valentines Mansion celebrates 10 years of being open to the public, two of the resident studio artists have come together to offer a unique selection of creative workshops to the public.

For the first time, artists Sadia Ur-Rehman and Amanda Seljubac have joined forces to create Artlab, a collaboration bringing their creative skills and expertise to a series of workshops throughout the year, each giving participants the chance to try their hand at a variety of traditional crafts.

Several of the workshops have already taken place, including soapstone carving, mosaic making and lino printmaking – and they’ve been hugely popular.

Participants are enjoying the chance to have a go at these traditional handicrafts; many of them have been forgotten. But thankfully, they’re making a comeback and it’s fashionable now to weave and get involved in a bit of block printing” commented Amanda.

Soapstone Carving

Soapstone Carving

Lino Print Making

Mosaic Making

And where better to have a go than in the historic Valentines Mansion, where many of these crafts would have been practiced by former residents many years ago?

Still to come in the series of workshops is:

Tapestry Weaving, Wednesday 12 June. Participants will learn how to set up and warp their loom, create a fringe for their unique wall hanging and start weaving.

Hand Applique, Wednesday 10 July. Discover the art of applique – a versatile sewing technique using layers of fabric.

Tea Cup Painting & Make Your Own Tea, Wednesday 14 August. Design and paint your very own tea cup and saucer in this unique workshop. During the session you will also make your own tea bags using loose leaf tea and a variety of spices.

Block Printing, Wednesday 11 September. Create your own custom-printed tote bag. You’ll not only learn how to block print, but also how to carve designs on to printing blocks, giving you a totally unique and personal creation.

Mark Making with Natural Tools, Wednesday 16 October. A unique workshop exploring a series of easy and exciting ways to create imagery and pattern using natural and unusual tools.

Punch Needle Embroidery, Wednesday 13 November. A modern take on the ancient craft of rug hooking, you will create your own piece of wall art after practising the skill of punch needle embroidery.

Christmas Printmaking, Wednesday 11 December. Using the traditional method of lino printing you will learn how to design and create your very own cards, gift tags and wrapping paper in this festive workshop.

Sadia commented “What’s great about these workshops is that participants will go away having learnt a skill for life, which is invaluable.”

The classes are each priced at £45 per person and all take between 11am-2pm.
All materials for each 3 hour workshop are provided, plus refreshments.

For full details and tickets, visit www.valentinesmansion.com.

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Half Term Fun at the Mansion

If you’re looking for ways to entertain the children during the half term break, why not bring them over to Valentines Mansion & Gardens?  With hundreds of years of history to explore and the gorgeous outdoors, it’s the perfect day out for the whole family.

Inside the Mansion, which is free entry, you can step back in time and visit the restored period rooms, and get a feel of what is was like to live in this wonderful house from when it was built over 320 years ago!  The Victorian kitchen is a real treat for kids and adults alike, with its pantry, scullery and kitchen packed full of lots interesting objects – have fun guessing what they were used for!

Victorian Kitchen at Valentines Mansion & Gardens

The little ones will love dressing up the Victorian and Georgian costumes and really getting a feel for what it would have been like to live here.  These are available every open day for younger visitors to enjoy.

Visit on Bank Holiday Monday and you can take part in the Indoor & Outdoor Explorers trail.  Just £2 per child, they’ll have fun hunting around the house and beautiful gardens for hidden objects and clues before picking up a treat at the end.  11am-4pm, last trail 3pm.

The gardens are always a real treat, with lots to see and explore – have a look around the kitchen garden and see all the fruits and vegetables growing out there, take a walk along the Long Water, pose for a photo with our tree-carved owl and stop for an ice-cream at the Gardener’s Cottage Café – you’ll have a great day out at Valentines Mansion.

IMG_55401 Valentines Mansion will be open during half term between Sunday 26 May and Wednesday 29 May, 11am-4pm.  Free entry (events charged for separately).

For more information visit http://www.valentinesmansion.com

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Looks Whooo’s Moved in!

The gardens at Valentines are home to many species of bird, including Blue and Great Tits, Sparrows and Starlings, and not to mention the chirpy characters in the aviary.

And now, we have a new member – a Tawney Owl, but not as you know it! The sycamore tree which previously stood tall between the Mansion and gardens, has been transformed by a chainsaw artist from Natural Garden Sculptures, into a giant version of the wise creature.

The tree, which was rooted here for approximately 80 to 100 years, sadly became diseased. Fortunately, rather than losing the tree altogether, the artist was commissioned to create a permanent work of art for visitors and park lovers to enjoy.

Marshall, a local artist who has previously worked his magic in other parts of the borough, was commissioned to create the 8ft sculpture. Simon Litt, Valentines Park Manager commented “We wanted to celebrate 10 years since the restoration of Valentines Gardens with something special and this seemed like the perfect choice. The chance to save a tree that has lived here for many years with a piece of art for all to enjoy.”


The structure can be found just by the entrance to the walled kitchen garden.

For more information contact Valentines Mansion on 0208 7088100.


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Hampton Court Grapevine Comes Home to Valentines Mansion

The iconic Great Vine of Hampton Court Palace, the largest grape vine in the world, has been admired and marvelled at by millions since it was first planted back in 1768 by Capability Brown, the famous garden designer. It’s the oldest productive grapevine in the world, producing on average, an impressive crop of about 272kg of black dessert grapes, which are sold in the palace shop every September. Now in its 250th year, the vine measures a colossal 4 metres around the base and the longest rod is 36.5 metres.

The fact that the original cutting was taken from a Black Hamburg Vine at Valentines Mansion is a lesser known piece of information. This year, to mark 10 years of the Mansion being open to the public, the great vine has made an exciting comeback to Valentines, its original home.

A cutting of the Hampton Court Vine was presented back to the Mansion and planted in a special vase, created by Valentines Mansion Studio Artist Cinzia Castellano. The vase and plant will go on display at the Mansion for the artists’ summer exhibition, ‘Decade’ which will mark the tenth anniversary of the Mansion being open to the public.  A cutting was also gifted back to the Mansion in 2008 after the restoration, and this grows in the kitchen garden.


“While reading about the Hampton Court Vine, I found that the initial cutting was taken from Valentines Mansion. This fascinated me, and I wanted to create a vase which would chromatically represent the plant itself, whilst at the same time being an abstraction of the Mansion with its grand portico and windows” comments Cinzia. The end result is an impressive three part structural vase, the perfect home for the new cutting.

The brown vase, with its rough and unclean finish, is masked buy two glossy panels. Representative also of the actual plant, with its soil and roots which are not visible, to the shiny exterior symbolising the parts that everyone sees – the leaves and fruits.

Coincidently, the structure of the vase, with its tarnished vase covered by the glossy exterior, is also symbolic of another part of the Mansion’s history – it’s links with The East India Company. Three of the Mansion’s previous owners were involved in the EIC, and it was during the time of Charles Raymond, a retired ship’s captain, who lavished his fortunes on the house and gardens, that the original cutting was presented to Capability Brown, the famous gardener, who was at the time, in charge of the gardens at Hampton Court.

The cutting has been presented back to the Mansion by the Royal Palaces representative during a private event. Ian Tocher, the Nursery and Plant Production Manager at Hampton Court commented. “I’m delighted to have brought back our vine plant, propagated from our Great Vine, to Valentine’s Mansion & Gardens and thrilled that a special vessel has been made for it. It’s great to continue the historical links with the gardens and park, where our famous Great Vine plant originated as a cutting.”

The vase and plant is now on display at the Mansion during public open days.

For more information contact Valentines Mansion on 0208 7088100.

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A Unique Dining Experience at the Mansion

The supperclub rage is still going strong, and it’s heading to the Mansion very soon! These unique dining experiences combine fine food and interesting themes and provide a great way socializing with like-minded foodies over a delicious meal.

Valentines Mansion has teamed up with a Michelin trained chef to bring you a special dinner inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That Hungry Chef, Pratap Chahal, has created a tantalising four-course menu celebrating Shakespeare’s magical comedy of errors.

The starter will transport you into fairy woods with its delicious combination of wild mushrooms and truffled goats cheese. The next two courses won’t take long to devour, and you’ll fall totally in love with the dessert, featuring violets and rose petals.

Supperclubs are ticketed dining experiences which started off with people holding special dinners in their own home, but have evolved to interesting venues such as unused churches, bell towers, and even train carriages, with celebrated chefs also joining in the craze! Also known as Closed Door Restaurants, a Supperclub is the next best thing to a restaurant fine dining experience.

That Hungry Chef will be coming to Valentines Mansion for one night only on Friday 7 June 2019 for this dinner unlike any other. Tickets are now on sale via https://www.exploretock.com/thathungrychef/, and cost just £40 per person. Full details also available on this web site.

For more information, contact Valentines Mansion on 020 8708 8100.

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Celebrating with Ceramics

Ten years ago, Valentines Mansion opened its doors to the public for the very first time in its 300 year history. After standing empty and derelict for many years, a Redbridge Council and Heritage Lottery Funded Project breathed new life in to the grade II* listed building. It was during this restoration that the top floor the Mansion, historically the servants’ quarters, was transformed into six contemporary artists’ studios, and one of the local makers to take up a place in one of the largest studios was Amanda Seljubac, a multi–disciplined artist, ranging from fashion/textiles to glass and ceramics.

Ten years on, Amanda is still exploring a variety of artistic disciplines. Her latest project, ‘Decade’, brings together a number of techniques, including ceramics, bisque firing and glazing to create a striking set of exhibition pieces, in celebration of Valentines Mansion’s 10th anniversary.

‘Decade’ will showcase cleverly crafted porcelain plaster cast replicas of Victorian bottles decorated with imagery of the mansion & gardens, taken over the last 10 years. The Victorian bottles used as inspiration have been on display in the Mansions’ pantry since 2009.

“I’ve made a few slip casting moulds over the years, and I’ve always liked the different ceramic bottles in Victorian kitchen and have wanted to make some moulds of them for a while. The 10 year anniversary of the restoration and the opening of Valentines Mansion seemed like the perfect opportunity” commented Amanda.

Victorian Bottle ready for mould making

Mould ready

Mould prepared for the slip cast







The intricate process of creating finished pieces involved making a plaster cast of the Victorian bottles in two sections, then using the moulds to make the porcelain bottles, before firing the images onto them in the studio’s kiln. “With a lot of testing I’m now extremely happy the results” said Amanda.

Bottles ready for firing in the kiln.

There will be ten bottles on display around the Mansion between now and during the studios artists’ collective summer exhibition, also entitled ‘Decade’, in which the eight artists will come together for a special show to mark the 10 year anniversary of Valentines Mansion. This collective exhibition will take place between Sunday 4 August and Sunday 1 September, with free entry.

Some of Amanda’s bottles are already on display around the Mansion – come in during one of our open days and take a closer look!

One of the finished bottles, featuring the iconic bird wallpaper from the Mansion’s bedchamber.

For more information contact Valentines Mansion on 0208 7088100.

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Easter Eggs-travaganza at Valentines Mansion

Valentines Mansion is hosting a fun-packed programme of events during the Easter school holidays.

It all starts with Hedgehog Fun on Wednesday 10 April, in which kids will learn fun and interesting facts about our prickly friends, before making their own cute cone hedgehog to take home. ‘Hedgehog Fun’ takes place 11.30am-12.30pm and costs £5 per child.

The fun continues with ‘Flower Power’ on Wednesday 17 April, in which children will create personalised gardens using their favourite paper blooms. 11.30am-12.30pm, £5 per child.

Taking place on Sunday 21 and Monday 22 April, the Easter Trail promises children a mini adventure as they go exploring to uncover hidden eggs and bunnies around the house and gardens.

There are also lots of tasty rewards to be won along the way. The trails take place between 11am and 4pm (last trail 3pm) and cost just £3 per child. There is no need to book, just turn up and join in on the day of your choice.

Pre-booking is essential for all the events listed apart from the Easter Trail. Our Easter events are incredibly popular so please book your tickets early on: https://thelittleboxoffice.com/valentines

All children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Valentines Mansion will be open for the school holidays between Sunday 7-Wednesday 10 April and Sunday 14-Wednesday 17 April, 11am-4pm, free entry (events charged for separately).

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Who lived in a house like this?

Join us as we go through the keyhole and delve into the fascinating history of Valentines Mansion. Built in 1696, the impressive Mansion served as a family home to many individuals, each with their own story and each leaving their personal mark on the Mansion.

Did you know that three of the Mansions previous owners were involved in the East India Company during the 18th Century? Or that the Mansion was originally built for the niece of Oliver Cromwell? Find out how Sir Charles Raymond, a retired ship’s captain, lavished his fortunes on the house and gardens.

You’ll learn this and so much more as you step back in time and take a walk around the house with our costumed guide, who has a wealth of knowledge on the history of Valentines. Feel free to ask questions as you go from room to room, look out for interesting pieces of architecture and imagine what it would have been like to live in a house like this.

Choose from three dates: Thursday 4 April, Thursday 9 May, Thursday 13 June. Tickets are £5 per person, including tea/coffee and are on sale now through www.valentinesmansion.com.

For more information contact Valentines Mansion on 0208 7088100.

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Step into the land of make believe for a spell-binding day at Valentines Mansion

A very special spell has been cast to transform Valentines Mansion and Gardens in to an enchanting world that brings to life the world’s most famous fairy tale characters.

Little wizards, witches, princes and princesses from the Kingdom of Redbridge and beyond are being invited to ‘Once Upon A Time’ on Sunday 5 May for a magical day of fun.

Doors open from 11am with activities, games and stories taking place until 4pm so get your little ones to grab their capes, wands and crowns and let their imagination run wild!

There’s plenty to do including following the fairy dust and clues to uncover the hidden objects in the elf trail, sitting down to stories with Old Mother Hubbard, meeting fairy tale characters and a dazzling performance by some very special performers.

There are also lots of wand waving opportunities and spells to be cast in our fun-filled arts and crafts activities as well as rides, face-painting and more!

And don’t forget to dress up the little ones as their favourite fairy tale character to take part in our parade at 2pm for a chance to win the crown for having the best costume.

Tickets are £5 per person and currently on sale via www.valentinesmansion.com

Please remember this is Valentines Mansion’s largest event of the year for children and tickets are limited. Please book early to secure your tickets and enjoy a happily ever after!

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