It’s Time for Tea at the Mansion

Our new exhibition, The Art of Tea, opened to the public on Sunday 3 July, with hundreds of visitors eager to see the spectacular still-life photos of antique tea-ware by photographer Stuart Duff.


Through the clever use of lighting techniques and innovative technology in the art of photographic display, Stuart has breathed life into a collection of previously unseen and exquisite valuable tea-ware from around the world.  So clever is the display, it gives the viewer an experience which presents the pieces in a way that is as close as possible to the real thing. Seeing is believing!

Stuart Duff Background

Stuart Duff studied photography at Blackpool and went on to work with the Lord Snowdon, Lester Bookbinder, Phil Jude and Doris Kloster.

After setting up his own studio in 1991, Stuart began working on campaigns for Saatchi & Saatchi such as Silk Cut, British Airways, Courvoisier and Asprey & Gerrards.  Many other high-profile campaigns followed, including Haagan-Dazm BMW and Adidas, bringing Stuart numerous awards from D&AD and the Creative Circle.  At the same time, Staurt was also producing award winning work for Vogue, Tatler, GQ, Harpers & Queen and front covers of The Sunday Times Magazine.

The Shoot

Stuart was commissioned to photograph this private collection in November 2012 and took 11,350 photographs of 1,250 pieces at various times between then and August 2014.

He then specifically designed and commissioned a large perspex dome in order to light the pieces and give consistency to the body of work and which also allowed him to control the contrast and graduations of light, something which was of particular importance to the silver and gold pieces.

No retouching was carried out on the final photographs in order to retain the authenticity of each piece.

Private View

The Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Gurdial Bhambra was among those who attended a private view of the collection on Friday 1 July, and was most impressed with the work. Guests met the photographer and marveled over his work, whilst sampling our very own unique Valentines Tea – two special blends created just for us and available to buy in our gift shop!


20160701_180234 20160701_180351The exhibition is open to the public until Sunday 31 July and is complimented by a number of tea themed events ranging from tastings and cream teas to a talk on tea and how it would have been enjoyed by previous residents of the Mansion.

For more information, visit

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Coffee & Cream Wins the Prize!

And the winner is…..Francesca (aged 7 and a half)!

Lucky Francesca correctly ticked ‘Coffee & Cream’ in our recent “Guess the Names’ competition and excitedly came in to pick up her runner-up prize. Francesca was super thrilled with her fabulous 57-piece art case from Ryman Stationery of Ilford, complete with a sketch book to get her started!

Well done Francesca! And if you would like to visit our furry new friends, head for the kitchen garden, opposite the Gardener’s Cottage Cafe. Open every day from 11am.

IMG_34093-siberian-chipmunkThe first prize was lunch for 4 in our lovely Gardener’s Cottage Cafe.

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Fancy a Cuppa?

Are you a tea-lover? If so, you’re in for a treat at Valentines Mansion! The whole month of July will be dedicated to the nations’ favourite beverage, with a special exhibition, tea talks, cream teas and even a series of masterclasses giving you the chance to create your unique blend of tea.

The Art of Tea

Valentines Mansion have teamed up with renowned still life photographer Stuart Duff to bring you a special photographic exhibition.  Through the use of innovative lighting techniques and new technology in the art of photographic display, Stuart has breathed life into a collection of previously unseen exquisite, rare and valuable antique teaware, giving the viewer an experience which presents these pieces in a way that is as close as possible to the real thing.  Intrigued?  Come and take a look for yourself, this exhibition will be open to the public in The Gallery from Sunday 3 July – Sunday 30 July with free entry – please visit for opening times during this period.

Stuart Duff Photographic Exhibition

The Fine Art of Tasting Tea

Not sure of your Long Jing’s from your Darjeeling’s?  Why not attend a tea master class with Mark Nicholls as part of Valentine Mansion’s tea extravaganza?  Tea Expert Mark has worked with tea from around the world with fine tea, blending and tasting, appreciating and selling. In this master-class session, you will have the chance to learn a brief history of tea and how it became the UK’s national drink.  You will also have the chance to become a tea taster for yourself, tasting the main types of tea from white to Pu-erh and of course, learn how best to prepare the perfect cuppa before making your own unique blend at the end. There are three masterclasses to choose from (Sundays 3rd, 10th and 24th July) priced at £25 per person.  Pre-booking is essential for each as spaces are strictly limited with only fifteen participants per class. Find out more here

Tea Masterclass

Valentines Cream Tea

The celebration of tea during this month wouldn’t be the same without a scrumptious cream tea at the lovely Mansion!  Choose from one of four dates (or all four if you fancy it!) and enjoy a traditional English cream tea accompanied by unique green and black teas, specially blended for Valentines. With only ten spaces for each sitting, this is the perfect afternoon out for you and a group of friends.  Pre-booking is essential and full details can be found on the Valentines Mansion web site.  £8.50 per person, 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th July.  Find out more and book here

For a full list of events coming up at Valentines Mansion please visit the web site






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Guess the Names & Win

Valentines Mansion & Gardens is celebrating the arrival of its newest residents, two Siberian Chipmunks with a special competition for kids. Simply guess their names and you could win one of two fantastic prizes!

3-siberian-chipmunk 06c7da4e805062e4b5bd7249558bf15b
The first prize is an absolute treat! The winner can enjoy lunch (for four) in the Gardener’s Cottage Café, situated in the Walled Kitchen Garden (just by the chipmunks!). The café offers some delicious lunch time treats, from soups and sandwiches, to Paninis and jacket potatoes, and not forgetting the yummy ice-creams and cakes.

The second prize is a spectacular 57-piece art case from Ryman the Stationer, packed with watercolour paints, oil pastels, paint pallets and many more – all presented in a stylish carry case, plus a sketch pad to get you started!
To enter, simply visit the Mansion or Gardener’s Cottage Café and complete the entry form. A winner and runner up will be picked at random on Sunday 19 June.

Closing date for entries is Sunday 12 June.

Entry Rules
1. This competition is open to under 18’s only
2. Entry fee 50p. One entry per person.
3. Entries must be made in person at Valentines Mansion or Gardeners Cottage Cafe, on the official entry slips. The Mansion is open on Tuesdays & Sundays (11am-3pm, and Mondays & Wednesdays during the school holidays (11am-3pm). The Café is open everyday from 10am.
4. First prize is lunch for a family of four at the Valentines Mansion & Gardens Gardener’s Cottage Café, up to the value of £40. The winner will be given a voucher, redeemable at the café. The voucher cannot be exchanged for cash and no change will be given for value not spent.
5. Runner up prize: Ryman Wooden 57 piece Art Case & Sketch Pad.
6. Closing date for entries is Sunday 12 June. Winners will be announced on Sunday 19 June at the Valentines Mansion Father’s Day event, Dad’s & Lads.
7. Winners (first and runner up) will be picked at random from all the correct entries received.

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A unique supperclub in a unique venue

The supperclub rage is sweeping across the country, and it’s heading your way very soon. These unique dining experiences mix fine food and interesting themes and provide a great way socializing with like-minded foodies over a delicious meal.

These ticketed dining experiences 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 dining experience.

Valentines Mansion, a grade 11* listed historic house in Ilford, Essex, has teamed up with a Michelin trained chef to bring you a special dinner inspired by the tradition of perfume.

Mansion FrontcompressedDrawing RoomWalled GardensOdors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath in our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it” Patrick Suskind, PERFUME.

That Hungry Chef, Pratap Chahal has created a menu inspired by and using traditional perfume ingredients from the gardens at Valentines to create an edible scent. Just like a perfume, the dinner is divided into a top, middle and bottom note with each perfume revealing itself either immediately, in 15 minutes or right at the end of the meal. Each course has a delicate balance of perfume allowing you to taste new and exciting flavours without being overpowering.

DSC0306 index PERFUME FOOD 1-s PERFUME FOOD 2-sWhen Valentine’s Mansion approached us about the possibility of collaborating for an evening of fine dining, I jumped at the chance of cooking in such a historic venue with a fabulous history. Their stunning gardens will also be providing a lot of the ingredients for the dinner which is inspired by the tradition of perfume making as I’ll be using historic and natural perfume ingredients to create a scent that you eat as well as smell. Being one of my signature cooking styles, I wanted to create an Edible Scent that reflected the mansion, gardens and, of course, the fleeting English summer.” comments Pratap.

On arrival, guests will enjoyed a welcome drink of Gin, Elderflower & Litsea Cubeba, an evergreen shrub with a sweet citrus flavour. For the main course, guests will have their senses tantalised with a selection of scents and flavours including lavender, tobacco, and rose geranium. The dessert course is a dream come true for chocolate lovers! Pratap has cleverly designed a mouth-watering chocolate tartlet combining the aromatic flavour of FrankincenseThe full menu can be found here 

Guests have the option of choosing the wine flight option and enjoying a glass of with each course, carefully selected and perfectly paired to compliment the flavours of each dish. The option of purchasing bottles is also available.

Perfume: An Edible Scent Supperclub will take place at Valentines Mansion on Friday 17th June at 7pm. Prices start at £50 per head (not including drinks).


For more information on the menu and to book on-line, visit Pre-booking essential and spaces are limited.

Valentines Mansion & Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA  (Gants Hill Underground Station on the Central Line only a 5 minute walk away.  Pay & Display Car Park on site)

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Shakespeare’s Bones back in Redbridge

Whilst searching for material for the summer exhibition at Valentines Mansion, which will celebrate the life of Shakespeare in the year that marks the 400th anniversary of his death, Julian Walker, one of the Mansions’ Studio Artists made a very timely discovery! A book on the great poet, playwright and actor which was written and inscribed by Clement Ingleby, previous resident of Valentines Mansion was spotted for sale on Ebay! Julian was quick to purchase this great find, and we’re thrilled to have it back at Valentines Mansion.

Shakepeares Bones

The discovery of ‘Shakespeare’s Bones’ by Clement Ingleby is very relevant for what is happening at the moment in the four-hundredth centenary commemorations, as it deals with the ethics of opening Shakespeare’s tomb for study purposes. “Ingleby’s quest in his study was to authenticate any of the known paintings of Shakespeare from the shape of his skull, if his skull could be identified. The recent scan has shown no evidence of human remains in the tomb, reviving the debate as to whether Shakespeare was ever buried there. Given the inconclusiveness of the evidence, and the curse on opening the tomb, we are no nearer knowing what Shakespeare really looked like than Ingleby was – so his question is still with us” elaborates Julian Walker.

This copy of the book was given by Clement Ingleby to the Shakespeare Information Centre in 1883 with the inscription “With the compliments of the author S M Ingleby” and there is a real sense of its presence at Valentines completing a Shakespeare circle in this anniversary year.

Clement Ingleby moved lived at Valentines Mansion from c1860 with his wife, Sarah Ingleby, the last private owner of the Mansion and a much-loved and well respected member of the Ilford community. Although formally trained in the legal profession, his main interest was in English literature, especially dramatic literature and the works of Shakespeare. He was a Trustee of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and he took an active part in the festivities held in Birmingham in 1864 to celebrate the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth.

The book will be on display as a highlight in our ‘Shakespeare in Redbridge’ exhibition at Valentines Mansion this summer; Redbridge residents are invited to participate in the show by lending material – photographs or programmes of Shakespeare performances in the borough, Shakespeare memorabilia, or special volumes of texts – for display at Valentines Mansion during August. Please contact Valentines Mansion on 020 8708 8100 if you have anything suitable.

With thanks to the Valentines Mansion Trust for purchasing this book for Valentines Mansion & Gardens.

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Mad Hatter fun at Valentines Mansion goes down a treat!

What a brilliant day! Glorious weather and lots of excited families visited Valentines Mansion for our Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatters Tea Party on Sunday 20 March. The gardens were transformed into a magical setting for families to enjoy their picnics whilst being entertained by characters from Alice in Wonderland – queues of excited children and families were greeted by the giant caterpillar on stilts, and joined in with Alice chasing the White Rabbit around the trees. The children also had great fun entertaining the Queen of Hearts with a game of human croquet as well as giving the Mad Hatter a hand with his tea party. We were thrilled to hold this event at Valentines Mansion, which was part of the GLA’s Find Your London Festival. It was great to see visitors in their hundreds from all over London and beyond come along to Valentines Mansion, many of them for the first time and we look forward to welcoming them back to the Mansion for our upcoming events. We are so pleased with the feedback received from visitors, it was lovely to see the children and parents having such a good time, many of them had dressed up and really got into character which was brilliant!

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Other activities included:

• Arts and Crafts inside the Mansion making picnic baskets and lots of treats to put inside
• We were lucky enough to have ISS Education, the local provider of healthy school meals in Redbridge join us with some fantastic food activities – visitors had great fun making oat playing card cookies as well as caterpillar fruit sticks. The Smoothie Bike proved popular with queues of people having a go at crushing fruits and vegetables into delicious drinks.
• Face painting
• Tea Cup rides
• Giant Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter props including cakes and cookies
• Interactive theatre performance by Historical Promotions and Event Management

A big thank you to all of our volunteers for all of their hard work throughout the day!

For upcoming events at Valentines Mansion please visit

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A look back at our re-opening fair….

We’re still getting over the excitement of our grand re-opening fair – what a day! Over a thousand people came along to help us celebrate on Valentine’s Day and they were rewarded with stall after stall offering a carefully selected range of handmade goodies. From arts and homeware to food and jewellery, there really was something for everyone.

Here’s a look back at the day – if you spent the day at Valentines and have any photos, please share them with us!

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If you are interested in having a stall at one of our upcoming fairs, please get in touch on 020 8708 8100:

Sunday 5 June – Milliners Fair
Sunday 18 June – Wedding Fair

Find out more on our web site

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Made with Love …..Stained Glass Labyrinth by Lisa Atkin

If you’ve ever ventured to the top floor of Valentines Mansion, you’ll have seen lots of striking stained glass panels in the studio of artist Lisa Atkin. From this space, Lisa creates her wonderful glass masterpieces, vibrant in colour and design.

Here’s a quick look at one of the processes Lisa goes through when making one of her striking stained glass panels…..cementing!

“…the laborious cementing process …… it’s amazing what a massive difference just 1-2mm of cement makes to a stained glass panel .   It goes from soft bendy lead; unstable with rattling, loose glass , to a completely rigid, solid and waterproof finished piece. Well worth all of the work put in , even though it’s such a messy and time consuming job!”  explains Lisa

“Once the piece is soldered together , you’re then ready to cement.”

Step One:  Push special glass cement under all of the the leads

1Step Two:  Sprinkle with whiting (chalk dust) to soak up the excess oils and speed up the drying process

Step Three:   Once cement is dry enough, carefully clean away excess (making sure you don’t pull out the 2mm that you pushed in)

3Step Four:  Polish , clean, and then clean again …..

6And now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour….

5Come and see more of Lisa’s amazing stained glass work at our Artists’ Open Studios Event on Valentine’s Day, Sunday 14 February, 10am-4pm, FREE ENTRY.

Find out more about our studio artists here:

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Made with Love….

Valentines Mansion will be re-opening to the public on Valentine’s Day after its winter closure with a special craft fair celebrating all things lovingly created by hand. “Made with Love” will feature carefully selected craft stalls throughout the Grade II* listed country house offering gift and food items. Venture to the top floor for Artist’s Open Studios, where you can meet the Valentines Mansion Studio Artists, see how their work is made and purchase some of their unique creations.

Situated in Ilford, Essex, Valentines Mansion is a grade II* listed country house surrounded by picturesque gardens and parkland – the perfect place to spend the most romantic day of the year with your loved ones. Browse the many stalls offering unique hand-made crafts, ranging from jewellery and stationery to edible gifts.

Here’s a look at some of the stallholders you’ll find at the Mansion on Valentine’s Day:

Sue Nicholls Designs – wonderfully quirky, colourful and contemporary textile art, home decorations and decorative accessories.

Sue Nicholls B_fjzQBWAAA-t9k.jpg large

The Little Pickle – a wonderful selection of savoury pickles and chutneys made by Alex Edgecombe, a privae chef based in the Cotswolds.


The Little Pickle

MillieMoo Knitwear – High quality, intricately patterned, eye-catching, and lovingly hand-finished scarves for all occasions.


MilleMoo Knitwear

Caring Creations – handmade nourishing soaps produced from a blend of skin-loving and therapeutic vegetable oils, essential oils and botanicals.



Ivy Lace London – unique and chic handmade lasercut jewellery.


Ivy Lace London (1)

Cool Caricatures – Let caricature artist Femi Adetunji create a fun portrait of you – the perfect gift for someone special!

Valentines Mansion’s resident artists will be opening their studio doors again for you to explore, get involved and browse an inspiring array of original gift ideas.  One of our most popular events, this is a great chance to find out more about what the artists here, at the mansion, are currently working on, as well as peer at what was previously the servants sleeping quarters.

From stunning fused glass, to jewellery and inventive ceramics, to intricate mosaics and striking contemporary paintings – you’ll just love the chance to explore their studios from which they create some of their amazing work.

Meet our artists:

Jason Rose specialises in contemporary acrylic paintings, with his inspiration lying in his life experiences, combining imagery from loved ones, meaningful places and dream imagery.  The themes of spirituality, environmentalism and quantum mechanics along with his bold style make his work take on a striking identity.

Lisa Atkin is an experienced stained glass, potter and 3D designer.

Anne Eggebert makes site-specific works using video, teletechnologies, photography, drawing and installation to explore the cultural articulation of landscape and how we describe it in the 21st century.

Louise Moore is a talented ceramic artist, mainly working with historic sites.  Her photographs are cleverly transferred on to a clay surface using a special photographic screen printing process.

Sarah Partridge specialises in ceramics, sculpture and mosaics and takes inspiration from forms found in nature, featuring spirals and orbs with smooth and textured surfaces.

Amanda Seljubac specialises in stained glass, pottery, stone carving and one several of her commissions in stained glass is on permanent display in The Chapel of Canon Palmer catholic School in Seven Kings.  You will also find some of her work in our walled gardens.

Sadia Ur-Rehman is a multi-media artist.  London born of Pakistani parentage, Sadia Ur-Rehman’s multi-media practice is an on-going investigation into the notions of home, belonging and cultural identity in an increasingly ‘globalised’ world.

Julian Walker Specialising in installation and performance, Julian has worked with several major museums, has exhibited internationally, has published a number of texts on cultural history, and works as an educator with the British Library, the British Museum, and other institutions. 

Carley Lencher:  An Essex based artist with a passion for the old masters such as Monet, Degas and Paul Cézanne which has helped inspire some of her paintings to date. Carley is currently working on a personal portfolio as well as taking on regular commissions. She specialises in Portraiture, Seascapes and traditional Landscapes and her work has now started to sell internationally.

Take a stroll through the gorgeous gardens, which are frequently used as a location for the Great British Bake Off, and sample the tempting food stalls offering a variety of cuisines. The Gardener’s Cottage Café will also be open throughout the day for lunch and snacks.

Made with Love & Artists Open Studios
Sunday 14 February
FREE entry

Find out more! Follow Valentines Mansion & Gardens on Facebook (ValMansion) and Twitter (@ValMansion) for the latest updates and a full list of stallholders.

Valentines Mansion & Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
Pay & Display car park on site
Nearest tube: Gants Hill on the Central Line only a 5 minute walk away
Nearest train: Ilford National Rail


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