The Mansion’s Owners 1696 – 1906

The Mansion’s Owners

1. The Tillotsons 1696 – 1702

2. The Finch Family 1702 – 1724

3. Robert Surman 1724 – 1754

4. Charles Raymond 1754 – 1788

5. Donald Cameron of Valentines 1788- 1797

6. Robert Wilks 1797 – 1808

7. Charles Welstead 1808 – 1838

8. Charles Holcombe 1838 – 1870

9. Sarah & Clement Ingleby 1860 – 1906

1. Mrs Elizabeth Tillotson and the building of Valentines

Documentary evidence proves that a building called Valentines existed in the Medieval period, but the house we know today was constructed after Mrs. Elizabeth Tillotson acquired the estate in 1696.

Elizabeth Tillotson was the niece of Oliver Cromwell, daughter of Peter French and his wife Robina Cromwell, sister of Cromwell. When she moved to Valentines, she was the widow of the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Tillotson.

Archbishop John Tillotson (1630-1694)

A member of the Friends, Selina Fraser-Smith, a descendent of the Archbishop’s brother Israel, has most kindly donated an original print of Archbishop Tillotson to the Friends. It is from a portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1691.

She had married John Tillotson at St. Lawrence Jewry Church on 23 February 1664. The church was destroyed in 1666 in the Great Fire and rebuilt magnificently by Sir Christopher Wren. It was in the new church that she buried her husband, now the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he died on 22 November 1694 at Lambeth Palace.

Much that has been written about Mrs. Tillotson and Valentines comes from two books:  The Life of the Most Rev Dr J Tillotson by Thomas Birch (1753), and Memoirs of the Protectorate-house of Cromwell by Mark Noble (1784). From these sources we learn that the couple had four children, a son who died “when just at the age of manhood” and three daughters:  one had also died unmarried before 1694, another became the wife of Mr. Fowler, son of the Bishop of Gloucester, and another had married James Chadwick Esq. and had three children before she died in 1687.

When King William lll asked John Tillotson to become the Archbishop of Canterbury he had resisted because “his private fortune was small and he should leave a poor widow of Canterbury”. The King agreed to give his wife a pension should she outlive him, but in the event this was delayed.  Mrs. Tillotson was forced to sell the copyright of her husband’s manuscript sermons for which she received 2,500 guineas (£2,625). On 2 May 1695 the King granted her an annuity of £400 during her life.

Mrs. Tillotson purchased the Valentines estate in 1696 and it is generally agreed that the house was built for her by her son-in-law James Chadwick.  He was a Commissioner of Customs and seems to have been respected. The house was not a grand affair, but was a well built residence, suitable for a lady in her social position.

However it appears James Chadwick did not play fair with his mother-in-law as the following letter appears in the book by Thomas Birch:

Deanry   Sept 25, 1697

Dear Hobbs,

….  Mrs.Tillotson is reduced herself to these narrow circumstances by the unexpected death of Mr.Chadwick, and that less expected condition he has left his family in, that she is utterly disabled…

…. She acquainted me with her condition; that Mr.Chadwick had spent all his estate, but what was settled upon his wife in marriage, which comes to her eldest son: That the younger son and daughter had not one farthing to maintain them, but depended wholly upon her: That he had put a thousand pounds of her money into the Bank in his own name, and had given her no declaration of trust, though she had often desired it of him, which, by this means, is lost to her, and must pay his debts. That his estate is in the forest,* where she has built her house, and which, I think, is copyhold, was purchased for his life at 300l. which must now be paid again. That upon his great importunity she built that house at great expense, which is now much too big for her. I was extremely concerned to hear this sad account…

Your most affectionate friend and servant, William Sherlock

* Valentines near Wanstead in Essex (i.e. in the legal Forest, not the physical forest)

Poor Mrs. Tillotson, not only was she left with financial problems, but she was responsible for the administration of her son-in-law’s will. At least the letter above seems to have had some effect as the King granted her an additional annuity of £200, also for life, on 18 August 1698. However Mrs Tillotson died four years later. Her will gives some details of her possessions and most of her estate went to the two younger grandchildren.

Did Grinling Gibbons design some features in the original Valentines House?

A window at St Lawrence Jewry Church

One interesting comment for us today is her bequest of a picture “in the unfurnished room where the carved work is over the chimney”. The comment by Daniel Lysons writing much later, in 1796, that the house contained “some fine carving by Gibbons” suggests that Grinling Gibbons may have carved the ornate decoration which can just be traced over the fireplace in the Surman Bedroom.  Since the silhouette would have faded if exposed to the light, it was preserved behind wallpaper when the Mansion was restored.

©  Georgina Green  21 February 2007

John Tillotson was born at Sowerby near Halifax in Yorkshire “of honest and religious parents, tho’ of a low and obscure condition”. His puritan upbringing was of enormous importance as he went to Cambridge during the Civil War and the religious turbulence was raging at the time when he was forming his own doctrinal views.

In 1656-7 he became chaplain to Edmund Prideaux, Oliver Cromwell’s attorney-general, and tutor to his son. In 1660/1 he was ordained and started on his path in the church. There is not enough space to summarise his career here, but a few facts might be of interest.

John Wilkins

Tillotson regularly preached on a Tuesday at St Lawrence (where he was later buried) before it was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666, and his sermons attracted considerable crowds. The vicar of St Lawrence from 1662 to 1668 was John Wilkins, and on 23 February 1664 Wilkins officiated in St Lawrence at the marriage between Tillotson and Wilkins’ stepdaughter Elizabeth French. Wilkins was the second husband of Robina French, widow of Peter French.

Tillotson became a Doctor of Divinity in 1666 and the following year was appointed one of the chaplains  to Charles II. This led to a post at Canterbury where he was dean from 1672 until 1689. The fact that his own non-conformist sympathies and connections with Cromwell were not hidden, and that he spoke against ‘popery’ even when he preached before the King showed him to be a man of integrity. He lost favour at court and bought a house at Edmonton where he retired during the difficult period when James II was on the throne. With the arrival of William and Mary he was again appointed a royal chaplain and became dean of St. Paul’s.

Elizabeth Tillotson lives in Lambeth Palace before moving to Valentines

Although he had no wish even to become a bishop, Tillotson was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury and consecrated in the post on 31 May 1691. He made a number of improvements at Lambeth Palace before moving in with his wife in the November. His time there was just three years as he died on 30 November 1694 after suffering a stroke a few days earlier. The King told Tillotson’s son-in-law James Chadwick, ‘He was the best man, that I ever knew, and the best Friend, that I ever had’.

©  Georgina Green  21 February 2008

2. The Finch Family 1702 – 1724

When considering historical research the best place to start is the Victoria County History which is a work of scholarship covering several volumes. However even the VCH gives little space to the Finch family in its account of Valentines, saying “On the death of Elizabeth Tillotson in 1702, her executors granted Valentines to George Finch…  William Finch, who was admitted to the tenement [as copyholder] in 1714, under the will of his father George, surrendered it in 1724 to Robert Surman.”  (VCH Vol.5 p.211) It has therefore come as quite a surprise to find considerable interest in the Finch family from Friends, at least three of whom can trace their ancestry back to Valentines.

Inscription to William Finch, George Finch’s father

The Finch family were prominent in the City of London and there is a memorial in St. Helen’s church at Bishopsgate to William Finch, Esq. with a lengthy Latin inscription. From this we can discover that he was of noble birth, a good man, just to his neighbours and indulgent to his wife and children, who died in 1672. He was “abounding in alms”, as well as in wealth, which he “honestly accumulated on earth as a prudent merchant.”  His wife Esther was also a devout Christian, a good mother and obedient wife who died in 1673.

George Finch

Their son George was born in about 1662 and obviously grew up in a home where money was plentiful but generosity to those less fortunate was part of the way of life. In 1690 he married Constance, the daughter of Nathaniel Hornby, a goldsmith and banker and Citizen of London. Constance was only 15 at the time, at least ten years his junior. George owned a house referred to as No.29 in Great St. Helen’s, so probably their first years together were spent there. A tax assessment of 1695 shows that George was clearly a man of means, living in the City with his young family and that a bachelor brother, Samuel, was also living with them at that time.

George Finch acquired Valentines in 1702, no doubt as a country residence for his young family. They had five sons and one daughter: James and Henry died young but the others must have grown up there. We have no information about their time at Valentines and do not know how much of the house we see today was familiar to them. The building has been altered at least four times since 1696 but I imagine the principal rooms are much the same. The house looked across the park to the main road (now Cranbrook Road) linking Barking and Ilford with the main road north at Woodford Bridge. They would have been easily accessible to City friends and probably had a good many visitors. The closest estate, Cranbrook, was the subject of litigation over ownership at the time the Finches were at Valentines. The wealthy Child family would have been very influential neighbours at Wanstead, where they were living in the gabled Tudor house which was one of the largest in Essex at that time, with very elaborate gardens.

Wanstead Hall, residence of Sir Josiah Child

When George died in 1710 he was buried at St. Helen’s church but the previous year he had purchased property containing 1,546 acres at Rainham. His wife Constance was buried at Rainham parish church when she died in 1728. Their eldest son, William, was registered as the owner of Valentines in 1714 but there is no record of who lived there in the next ten years. His sister Anne died in 1713 – a memorial was erected to her memory in Bath Abbey. The youngest brother, Thomas, studied at Merton College, Oxford, but died in 1718 and was buried at St. Helen’s.

William sold Valentines in 1724 and the Rainham properties in 1729 – the present Rainham Hall was built for the new owner and is now owned by the National Trust. The documentation from 1729 describes William as “late of Valentines in the County of Essex and now of Cannells in the County of Stafford, Esquire” and his brother George as “of Hornchurch in the County of Essex, Esquire.” William died in Bath in 1735 and was buried at Bath Abbey. He had married Dorothy Tyndale in 1721 but it seems there were no surviving children.

George had married twice and it is from him that Friends Brenda Lawrance and Michael Davies can trace their ancestry. I am very grateful to them for much family information included in this article, and to their cousin John Hart for the miniature of George Finch. Thanks also to Tony Thomas of St.Helen’s, Bishopsgate.

© Georgina Green

3. Robert Surman 1724 – 1754

Robert Surman was registered as the owner of Valentines at the Manor Court on 16th April 1724, having recently suffered the disgrace of having all his property “sold by Auction to the best Bidder in the Hall of the South-Sea House”.

Robert Surman apprenticed to Stephen Ramm

Surman was born around 1693 and he was apprenticed to Stephen Ramm, Citizen and Goldsmith, on 20 January 1708. He completed his seven-year apprenticeship but he did not take up his freedom with the Goldsmiths’ Company until much later. In the eighteenth century the term ‘goldsmith’ was interchangeable with ‘banker’ and it was in the world of finance that he made a living.

Robert Surman’s signature on a document relating to the “South Sea Bubble”

In 1718 Surman was appointed assistant to the Chief Cashier of the South Sea Company, Robert Knight, his uncle, and played a central part in the scheme which led to the “South Sea Bubble”.

The sale of property owned by all the Directors and key officers was part of the attempt to recover some money to assist the vast numbers who had lost their fortune. Robert Surman pleaded his junior status and while forfeiting all his property, he was granted £5,000 which was approximately what he owned in 1718. Settling down at Valentines with his wife and two small daughters was the first stage in rebuilding his life.

Surman was a minor player in the South Sea Bubble team, but it was his knowledge of banking which had been an asset to the South Sea Company. Once the dust had settled on the “Bubble” it was Martin’s Bank which enabled him to pick up the pieces and get on with his life. By 1731 the partners in the bank were listed as James Martin, Robert Surman, James Leaver and Richard Stone and Surman continued as a partner for about twenty years.

The property called Valentines and purchased by Surman in 1724 comprised the house and eight acres of land. Pencilled dates on the wall of one of the first floor rooms show that he wasted no time in redecorating at least part of the house.

Main staircase and Palladian window

Surman’s improvements probably included the addition of a new main staircase with the Palladian window and he may have added the two bays to the front of the building. (The coloured glass was not inserted until the time of a subsequent owner, Charles Welstead.)

Soon after 1726 Surman bought the adjoining property of about 120 acres, also called Valentines but sometimes later referred to as Middlefield Farm, from John Lethieullier and his son, Smart Lethieullier. It seems Surman soon set about rebuilding the gardens as there is a record of workmen digging in a field behind Mr.Surman’s gardens at Valentines in October 1724. The formal gardens and the canal behind the house could well have been constructed at this time.

Robert Surman probably had a house in the City but it is likely that his wife and daughters spent most of their time at Valentines. We can imagine him enjoying the newly created garden walks, arm-in-arm with Thomasin, watching his daughters Thomasina (born in 1719) and Sarah (born in 1721) running across the grass and playing hide and seek among the shrubs. His disgrace must have become a thing of the past when in 1730 the Parish Vestry appointed Robert Surman Overseer of Great Ilford Ward.

Sadly, the happy family life at Valentines lasted just ten years. A stone on the floor of St. Margaret’s church at Barking (recorded in around 1908 but now hidden under the organ platform) says: Here lyeth interr’d the body of Thomasin Surman, late wife of Robert Surman of Valentine House in this parish, Gent., who departed this life the 26th day of November Anno Dom. 1734 aged 41 years. Robert and his two daughters, now in their early teens, must have had a sad journey back to Valentines after the funeral. It would be nice to think that Robert’s mother stayed to comfort them over the cold weeks of December and January. She had lost her husband in 1722 and from the wording used when she put her own affairs in order around 1736 it is clear that she regarded her son with great affection. She died in November 1744.

Robert was by now about fifty years of age and with considerable standing in the community. His mother had been a wealthy woman and about five years after her death Robert Surman decided to branch out and establish a bank of his own. It was known as Surman, Dinely and Cliffe, the partners being Thomas Dinely a colleague at Martin’s Bank, and Surman’s nephew, Robert Cliffe, co-executor of his mother’s will.

Just before this, in December 1748, Robert’s daughter, Thomasina, married Colonel John Boscawen, son of Hugh Boscawen, 1st Viscount Falmouth. Her husband later became Master of the Horse, and one of the Grooms of the Bedchamber to the Duke of Cumberland, and M.P. for Truro. Their son William was born 7 January 1750, but sadly Thomasina died about three weeks later, aged 30 years. She was buried with her mother at Barking.

By now Robert Surman and his daughter Sarah were accepted in the best circles. Some glimpses of their social life can be gleaned from letters which were exchanged between Earl Tylney of Wanstead and his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Long, and the Earl’s sisters Emma and Dorothy. For instance, they joined Earl Tylney and eleven other guests to a supper party at Bleak Hall. This included Lord Londonderry who was staying with Earl Tylney at that time. The letters refer to Miss Surman as Sally. She would have been twenty-nine at the time, three or four years younger than Dorothy Child.

In the 1750s Robert Surman was described as “of Lombard Street, London goldsmith” in property deals with Joseph Cruttenden of Gracechurch Street, London, gent. (his nephew), Robert Cliffe of Lombard Street, London banker (also his nephew) Thomas Dineley of Tower Hill, London esq. and others. We do not know why Robert Surman decided to sell Valentines but in October 1754 it was acquired by Charles Raymond. It seems likely the two men became acquainted through business with the East India Company.

The Gentleman’s Magazine reported the death of Robert Surman of Glocester Street, Esq on 14 June 1759.

© Georgina Green 2006

4. Charles Raymond of Valentines 1754 – 1788

Sir Charles Raymond owned Valentines Mansion from 1754 until his death in 1788. Sir Charles Raymond of Valentines and the East India Company (published August 2015) is a meticulously researched biography by local historian Georgina Green. The book offers readers a detailed account of the life of a successful eighteenth-century sea captain whose oriental fortune laid the foundations for domestic comfort and commercial achievement at home in Georgian Essex. Priced £15, the book is available from

Sir Charles Raymond

Charles Raymond was born in 1713, the son of John Raymond, a gentleman of substance who had connections with the East India Company. He was brought up at Withycombe Raleigh, now a part of Exmouth, Devon, and the sea must have been in his blood. At the age of about 16 he served as a purser on the Dawsonne on a trip to Madras and Bengal. He returned to India five more times, once as 3rd mate on the Prince of Wales and four times as the captain of the Wager.

The last voyage Charles Raymond made involved 117 weeks away from the coast of Britain, from May 1744 to September 1746. The Wager spent a total of 64 weeks at sea at a time when scurvy was a major threat and navigators still had no means of locating longitude. While at anchor in the “River of Bengall” eight of the crew died of a “malignant fever” and the captain must have had a heavy heart when he recorded the death of the purser, Thomas Webster, in the ship’s log. Thomas has become his brother-in-law a few months before the voyage started and this was his first voyage.

As captain, Charles was entitled to engage in private trade which allowed him to build up sufficient funds to invest in ships working for the East India Company. By 1757 he had become a “ship’s husband” the Principal Managing Owner of a ship, responsible for the organisation of the voyage, engaging the captain and crew and negotiating with the Directors of the East India Company. In the following thirty years, until his death, he was by far the most important and influential Principal Managing Owner of his time, with 30 ships and responsible for 77 voyages.

The wealth that he accumulated with these voyages enabled him to invest in many ways.

Charles Raymond married Sarah Webster in 1743 and by this time I think Charles had inherited the family property in Devon while Sarah was co-owner of an estate in Bromley as well as having connections with Wapping. Family records show they had several children who died young. Their eldest surviving child was a daughter, Sophia, who was born on 11 April 1753. Two younger sisters, Juliana and Anna Maria, also grew up at Valentines which their father purchased in 1754.

At that time the building was more compact than the mansion we know today. The dairy wing was a separate entity with large glass windows, used as a conservatory or orangery.

The main entrance seems to have been on the opposite side of the building, under the balcony – the porte cochère was not added to the house for another fifty years. In 1769 it was substantially rebuilt and three rain-water hoppers still bear that date with the Raymond symbol today. The line drawing frequently used as an illustration of the Georgian house dates from 1771, not long after the work was completed.

Charles Raymond took a keen interest in his garden, planting a Black Hamburg Vine in 1758. A cutting of this was taken to Hampton Court ten years later and it is still flourishing there now.

In the early 1760s he purchased the original painting of Southwark Fair by William Hogarth.

He was also involved with Harley, Cameron & Co. another banking firm in which Donald Cameron (who later lived at Valentines) was a partner.

He became a founder member of a bank known as Raymond, Williams, Vere, Lowe and Fletcher. This later became Williams Deacon’s Bank and is now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In 1771 it is recorded that there was a collection of “curious birds and other animals” in the garden and, I suspect, the Cedar of Lebanon tree was probably becoming established by then. The estate owned by Raymond covered a substantial amount of land stretching from the Roding to Ley Street, with other properties in the district.

The early 1770s were happy years for Charles Raymond. In 1771-2 he was Sheriff for the County of Essex and in 1774 he was created a baronet. In 1773 his eldest daughter, Sophia, married William Burrell, a close relative. Sophia was a very good catch – the announcement of the marriage in the Gentleman’s Magazine mentions she was worth £100,000. William was twice her age and a very learned man, interested in “antiquarian pursuits”. The couple had three sons and two daughters but Sophia still found time for writing and it is for this that she was given an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. Her work included poetry, two volumes of which were published in 1793, and two tragedies.

Lady Sarah Raymond died in 1778 and some time after this Charles moved from Valentines to live at Highlands, a house he had built not long before on land he owned. The tower he built there, intended but never used as a family mausoleum, became known as Ilford Castle or Cranbrook Castle.

Ilford Castle or Cranbrook Castle or Raymond’s Folly, demolished 1923

In 1781 his youngest daughter, Anna Maria, married a young man well known to her father. Thomas Newte had served on a number of ships owned by Sir Charles Raymond, and made two voyages as a captain. He also became a Principal Managing Owner himself, although sadly Anna Maria died two years after they married.

Sir Charles Raymond died in 1788. His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine reported that on 24 August Sir Chas.Raymond, bart., banker died at Highlands, his house near Ilford, and that he left his whole fortune equally divided between his two daughters, independent of their husbands, and afterwards to their children. By this time Juliana was married to Henry Boulton, Esq, of Leatherhead, Surrey, of which country he was Sheriff in 1783. The baronetcy passed to Sophia’s husband, William Burrell. The couple inherited considerable wealth and property, including half the manor of Knepp in West Sussex which Charles had purchased the year before he died.

© Georgina Green 29/12/03

5. Donald Cameron of Valentines 1788- 1797

When Sir Charles Raymond died in 1788 his two surviving daughters inherited Valentines Mansion and they sold it to Donald Cameron. He was a Scotsman, the son of Dr.Archebald Cameron of Lochiel and his wife Jean, and the brother of Allen Cameron. He had married Mary Guy and they seem to have had just one child, a son called Charles. He married Lady Margaret Hay, daughter of James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll on 6 August 1789, a few months after his father had purchased Valentines.

Donald Cameron died just nine years after purchasing Valentines, on 29 April 1797 just after his banking partnership of Harley, Cameron & Co. collapsed during a run on the Bank of England, so Valentines was sold to pay his considerable debts. His house at Ilford Lodge with 35 acres was sold separately.

In 1784 Donald Cameron was listed as paying rates on 103 acres in Barking ward with another 205 acres in Ilford (Town) ward which included his house. This was almost certainly Ilford Lodge to the south of the Valentines estate. At that time William Raikes was paying rent for Valentines to Sir Charles Raymond who had moved to Highlands, another house he owned, in 1782/3.

Donald Cameron had several business interests in common with Raymond. He first appears in the East India Company records as taking over from Raymond as manager of the East Indiaman Valentine in1780. This was a new ship of 790 tons which had been built to replace the vessel lost off the island of Sark on 16 November 1779. In all Cameron was the Principal Managing Owner of seven ships making a total of 29 voyages for the East India Company, without loss.

In 1778 Sir Charles Raymond started a new bank called Raymond, Harley, Webber and Co. at George Street, near the Mansion House. The Webber was, presumably, William Webber of Highlands, a friend from his days at sea, partner in managing ships, and the husband of his wife’s sister. When Webber died on 25 April 1779 they needed a new partner and in 1781 the bank became Raymond, Harley, Lloyd and Cameron. After the death of Raymond it became Thomas Harley, Cameron and Sons but the bank failed in 1789.

The Right Honable Thomas Harley of the City of London, Banker, was a close associate of Cameron, and one of the backers when he bought Valentines on 30 & 31 January 1789. He was the fourth son of Edward Harley, 3rd Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, an influential MP who had held the office of Lord Mayor of London between 1767 and 1768.

Donald Cameron held the office of High Sheriff of Essex in 1791. He was also a Master Keeper of Waltham Forest for the West Hainault Walk 1790– 97, both positions which had been held by Sir Charles Raymond in the 1770s.

After Donald Cameron died his widow was shown living at Southborough Cottage (Kent) with his only son and heir, Charles Cameron, and his wife.

© Georgina Green 23 March 2009

6. Robert Wilks 1797 – 1808

When Donald Cameron died in 1797 the Valentines estate was split up and the main portion, including Valentine House, was sold to Robert Wilks.[1] In the past the surname has been listed as Wilkes, which caused some confusion, but there is nothing in the documentation at the Essex Record Office to give any further clues to the man’s identity.

It is likely that Robert Wilks lived at Wanstead, died on 20 March 1818 in his 65th year and was buried at Bunhill Fields in the City of London. “His loss was deeply felt by his family, and a numerous circle of friends.” He had no surviving children and his will mentions his brother Matthias Wilks of Easton Neston Park, Northants, and his good friends the wealthy Cazenove brothers of Walthamstow.[2]

Robert Wilks had become the purchaser of “All that Capital Messuage or Mansion House called or known by the name of Valentines…. with various fields totalling 168a. 3r. 9p” by Auction at Garraways Coffee House for the sum of £9,500. He also purchased a further 80 acres which had been part of Wyfields but was added to the Valentines holding by Sir Charles Raymond.[3]

At this time there was an economic crisis due the Napoleonic War and it seems likely that Wilks purchased the property as an investment, and that it was left unoccupied. If so, Wilks had made a shrewd investment as he sold the property in 1808 for £13,100.[4]

[1] VCH Vol.V p.212; Essex Record Office D/DU 539/1

[2] C:\Users\user\Documents\Valentines\History\Wilks – the elusive Robert Wilkes.doc

[3] Essex Record Office D/DU 539/1 p.49-50; VCH Vol.V p.214

[4] Essex Record Office D/DU 539/1 p.59, 60

7. Charles Welstead 1808 – 1838

In 1808 Valentines was purchased by Charles Welstead of Leyton Stone Esq. In 1798 he had married Sophia Porter at Wormley in Hertfordshire and she seems to have contributed to the purchase.[1]

The couple made many changes to the house, moving the front entrance from the south side to the north and building the porte cochère.

The elegant curve of the Porte Cochère

They converted the orangery (or conservatory) into the dairy wing and built the kitchen to link it to the main house.

Charles Welstead also made substantial changes to the gardens and he probably created the lake which is now used for boating. The estate as recorded in the ownership of Charles Welstead in the Barking Tithe Award of 1847 covered approx.170 acres. Apart from the formal gardens, the fields nearest to the house were used as meadows, while further south, on either side of the lake, they were arable.

When he married in 1798 Welstead was described as “deputy collector of the customs in the coastal business inwards and outwards”. [2] His memorial says he was “19 years in the service of his Majesty’s Customs in the Port of London” but little more has been discovered about him, so far. He seems to have been a charitable man, involved with the Marine Society which was founded in 1765 by Jonas Hanway to supply young recruits (from the workhouse) and equip them for service in the British Navy.[3] Soon after he came to Ilford Charles Welstead built the “Forest Side school” in Horns Road, Barkingside, but this was closed after his death.[4] He was also nominated for the honour of being Sheriff for the County of Essex shortly before he died in 1832.[5] He was buried with others of his family in the churchyard at St. John’s, Little Leighs, a very quiet spot down a pretty winding lane, off the A131 Chelmsford to Braintree Road.

When he died there was a legal wrangle over his will and although his widow survived until 1847, Valentines was sold in 1838 to Charles Holcombe.

© Georgina Green 13 April 2010

[1] Essex Record Office D/DU 539/1 p. 64

[2] GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE Vol.68 Pt.1 p.255 (1798)

[3] Times 1817

[4] VCH Vol.V p.264

[5] GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE Vol.102 Pt.2 p.655 (1832)

8. Charles Holcombe 1838 – 1870

Image of Charles Thomas Holcombe courtesy of Redbridge Information and Heritage

Charles Thomas Holcombe bought Valentines Mansion in 1838, moving there with his wife Margaret and their niece Sarah Oakes. He was then about 46 years old and had previously lived at Old Mill Green House at Ingatestone. Sarah Oakes would later become Mrs Sarah Ingleby.

His new home was described in the sale documentation as “a capital family mansion and estate called Valentines, with ornamental park, pleasure grounds, gardens, conservatory, pinery, hot-houses, green-houses, and double coach-house and stables, farm and other out-buildings, with sundry inclosures of arable and pasture land” in all about 175 acres. The price paid was £12,600.

Holcombe was obviously a wealthy man and amongst other ways of earning money, an industrialist. He leased a large plot of land at Greenwich from Morden College. Mary Mills account of Greenwich Marsh, the 300 years before the Dome tells us that in Greenwich directories Holcombe’s property on the marsh is given as a “brass foundry, tar and Asfelt works”. He is also described as a “refiner of coal tar, spirit, pitch and varnish”. So like many others in the 1840s, he was experimenting with gas industry tars for use in paint and varnish. Holcome also developed the site by building a wharf with a road leading to it, with houses and a pub called The Sea Witch on the riverbank. (This was destroyed in 1940).

Sarah Oakes, pictured around the time she would become Mrs Sarah Ingleby (c1850)

The Holcombes do not seem to have had any children of their own but had brought up their niece, Sarah Oakes, as that her mother died shortly after her birth. Sarah married Clement Ingleby at Ilford in 1850 before moving to live with her husband in his home town of Edgbaston.

Margaret Holcombe died on 25 April 1860 “in the 68th year of her age”, and surprisingly the death was registered at Kensington. By this time the Inglebys had four children and Clement had become a Doctor of Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. At the time of the 1861 census Mrs.Ingleby and the children were at Valentines, while her husband was shown with his mother at Edgbaston. It seems that about this time the family moved back to Valentines to be with “Uncle Charles” who was now a widower approaching seventy.

Charles Thomas Holcombe died 28 September 1870, and is buried with his wife at St. Mary’s, the parish church of Great Ilford. He left Valentines to his niece, Mrs. Ingleby, for her life and then to his great-nephew and godson, Holcombe Ingleby.

©  Georgina Green 09/06/02

9. Sarah & Clement Ingleby 1860 – 1906

Sarah Ingleby (1823–1906)
by Guido Philipp Schmitt
Date painted: 1884,
Oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm Reproduced courtesy of King’s Lynn Museum

Sarah, daughter of Robert and Sarah Oakes, was born on 22 December 1823 at Milton, near Gravesend. However her mother died when she was very small, so Sarah was brought up by her uncle, Charles Thomas Holcombe, and his wife Margaret, the sister of Sarah’s mother.

Mrs. Sarah Ingleby lived at Valentines Mansion for a total of about 58 years including the time living there with her aunt and uncle. She died there on 3 January 1906. A hundred years ago the local papers gave great prominence to her obituary and it is clear she was regarded as a very kind and generous lady.

Sarah spent her early years with the Holcombes at Mill Green House at Fryerning near Ingatestone. However, in 1838 Charles Holcombe bought Valentines, so when they moved in Sarah was about 14 years old. The property was described in the sale documentation as “a capital family mansion and estate called Valentines, with ornamental park, pleasure grounds, gardens, conservatory, pinery, hot-houses, green-houses, and double coach-house and stables, farm and other out-buildings, with sundry inclosures of arable and pasture land” in all about 175 acres.

Image of Clement Ingleby courtesy of Redbridge Information and Heritage

We don’t know when or how Sarah met her future husband, Clement Ingleby. He was the only son of a much-respected solicitor in Birmingham. Clement had a very logical mind and Sarah was deeply religious, but somehow she managed to persuade him that her Christian beliefs were sound and they married on 3rd October 1850 at the Parish Church of Great Ilford (St. Mary’s in the High Road). The head and shoulders portrait of Sarah, with her hair in ringlets, dates from this time.

They settled down together at 35 Carpenter Road, Edgbaston where Sarah gave birth to four children: Arthur in 1852, Holcombe in 1854, Herbert in 1856 and Clementina Rose at the end of 1857. Clement was taken into partnership as a solicitor in the family firm of Ingleby, Wragge and Ingleby of Birmingham. However he did not enjoy the legal profession and in his spare time he studied metaphysiscs, mathematics and English literature. Apparently for a time he held the Chair of Logic at the Birmingham and Midland Institute but an interest in Shakespeare was taking over as his main preoccupation. In 1859 he became a Doctor of Literature at Cambridge University.

After ten years in Edgbaston several events precipitated a move back to Valentines for Sarah and her family. In August 1859 Clement’s father died. He no longer needed to respect his father’s wish that he worked in the family firm, and he wanted to spend more time visiting the library at the British Museum to study the documents which would help him in his research. In April 1860 Sarah’s aunt Margaret died, leaving Charles Holcombe alone at the age of 68.

So the family moved to Valentines where the children grew up in what was later described as the “stately mansion with a noble lawn, and park, a grand avenue of yew-trees, and famous gardens.” Sarah seems to have run the house and estate while Clement pursued his vocation as a gentleman of letters, spending much time in his library where he wrote many scholarly books. The family was brought up in a very upright and Christian way with daily morning prayers, and attendance at church two or three times on a Sunday. Their eldest son, Rev. Arthur Ingleby (1852-1929) is remembered locally as the Chaplain of the Hospital Chapel at Ilford – the oldest building in Redbridge and a place of worship for 850 years.

However, life at Valentines was not all solemnity. Both Sarah and Clement had good singing voices and it is likely there was much music in the house. Clement also wrote poetry, some of it in a light-hearted vein to amuse the children.

But then tragedy struck. In August 1886 Clement suffered a serious rheumatic attack and he died on 26 September. Poor Sarah took it very badly, but the whole household rallied round and gave her the support she needed. Once she had come to terms with her loss, Mrs Ingleby took strength from her Christian beliefs and continued to do what she could for others.

She served as President of the Ilford Philanthropic Society for a number of years. Unlike many grand ladies taking on such a position, she was not just a figurehead. Her address at the Annual General Meeting was, apparently, always pleasantly anticipated as she always spoke from her heart, with some eloquence. She took a great interest in the welfare of her less fortunate neighbours and seems to have had an intuitive understanding of their problems.

Mrs. Ingleby allowed the grounds at Valentines to be used for a great many functions. These ranged from genteel tea parties to large scale fetes. Mrs Ingleby’s hospitality was extended to everyone regardless of politics (she was a Conservative) or religious inclinations (she was a faithful member of the Church of England). The gardens were a particular source of pride to Mrs.Ingleby and she regularly opened them to the Horticultural Society.

But as the sprawl of London extended towards Valentines in the 1890s, she decided to sell about 48 acres of the estate to the then Urban District Council for the creation of Central Park (since enlarged and now known as Valentines Park), which opened in 1899.

Mrs. Ingleby was warm-hearted and sympathetic, and she was constantly thinking about how she could help the poor. Many of the workers on the Valentines estate, and in her own household, lived in the enclave around The Beehive. Mrs. Ingleby built a school there and contributed to its maintenance.

Shortly before her death Mrs. Ingleby was instrumental in providing a nurse for the Beehive District. The lady was actually living at Valentines with Mrs. Ingleby when she was taken ill with influenza, so for once she was the beneficiary of her own generosity. Sadly she developed bronchial pneumonia, and died just after her 82nd birthday.

The Ilford Guardian of 6 January 1906 said “Words utterly fail to express the keen regret that was felt in Ilford on Wednesday, when news was received of the death of Mrs. Ingleby of Valentines. That lady had so consistently and wholeheartedly lent her wonderful energies to philanthropic work that every resident, rich and poor, had a feeling of something more than respect for her, whilst in the immediate neighbourhood of Valentines – particularly in the Beehive District – she was loved by all.”