Valence House Museum

Valence House Museum

Moated medieval manor house and gardens with docklands + museum.

Location: Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 3HT

Description: In medieval times all of the land in Barking, Dagenham and Ilford was part of the Manor of Barking, owned and administered by Barking Abbey. This encompassed many smaller manors including the Manor of Valence, and today the Valence House Museum is the only surviving of the five manor houses of Dagenham.

The timber-framed museum building, partially surrounded by a moat, dates from 1269.

In 1291, Agnes de Valence moved here after the death of her third husband. Her grandmother was Isabella of Angouleme, wife of King John of England. The de Valences remained in the area for 51 years, but their name lived on.

Each new tenant expanded and modernised the house and environs, and gradually the manor house with its farm buildings gradually evolved into a fine residential house surrounded by pleasant gardens.

When its lease was sold in 1803, Valence Manor had six farms, bringing in an income of 11,000 a year, a tidy sum.

Around the house, a rectangular moat acted as part status symbol and part corral, keeping in animals and serving as a fish pond.

In 1921, the London County Council bought Valence House as part of its new Becontree Estate housing scheme but just 5 years later it was destined for demolition before the newly formed Dagenham Urban District Council needed office accommodation and bought it.

During the Second World War, Valence House was used as an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) and firewatching post with gas masks and ration books being distributed from here for local residents remaining through the blitz. In April 1941, the house suffered minor damage during an air raid.

The museum exhibits expanded to fill several smaller rooms in addition to the original gallery and when the Library Service vacated the premises in 1974, the house officially opened to the public as the local history museum for Barking and Dagenham.

Themes: MuseumMuseum Theme  HistoricalHistorical Theme
Valence House Museum

Moated medieval manor house and gardens with docklands + museum.

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