Quite a varied history. The house was built in around 1696 for Elizabeth Tillotson and her family, after the death of her husband, the Archbishop of Canterbury. At that time the new brick house stood in open countryside, several miles from the edge of London. Valentines has changed hands many times since then. City merchant and banker Robert Surman bought the estate in the 1720s and created the walled gardens, dovecote and grottoes. In the 1760s owner Sir Charles Raymond spent part of his fortune renovating Valentines, giving the house its Georgian appearance. Sarah Ingleby, the last private resident of Valentines, died in 1906 and the Council acquired the house in 1912. Since then, the mansion has been home to wartime refugees, a hospital, a public health centre, and a council housing department. Prior to the Elizabeth Tillotson there was a family of Valentines living on the estate (for whom it was named) as well as a Beehive estate. In the 1671 Hearth Tax when Robert Bertie held both Beehive and Valentines (8 acres), one house had 14 hearths, the other had 8 hearths. Both were therefore substantial properties. It is possible that c.1600 the Valentine family also leased the larger Valentines estate and farmed the two together even though they were owned by different people.
The house itself has been meticulously restored and is a fine example of it's era along with the 18th century amendments. The gardens are well worth a visit themmselves. You can relax and unwind in the gorgeous gardens at Valentines. Discover the historic kitchen garden, the Old English walled garden and the Victorian rose garden. There are also a whole host of unique features like the Long Water canal, rococo grottoes and dovecote. Valentines Gardens provide a wonderful setting for events throughout the year, from open-air theatre to farmers’ markets. The Mansion and gardens will reopen on Valentines Day (February 14th) with an arts and crafts fair. Forthcoming events. The mansion has level access throughout, with a lift to all floors. Width restrictions apply to larger electric wheelchairs. Please call ahead of your visit for advice and assistance. Guided tours are available but must be pre-booked.
Location : Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
Transport: Gants Hill (Central Line). London Buses routes 396, 128, 179, 123, 296, 167 and 150 stop at the Mansion.
Opening Times: Tuesday + Sunday 11:00 to 15:00
School Holidays: Monday - Wednesday + Sunday 11:00 to 15:00
Tickets : Free. Tours £4.50 pp.
Tel: 020 8708 8100