Our Valentines is Your Valentines!

An invitation to everyone to come and enjoy this wonderful historic house with its gardens and park, in the heart of the London Borough of Redbridge. Open days, FREE ENTRY, Sundays and Mondays 10.30-4pm.

Artists’ works in the Gallery

Scroll down to read about featured artists, Sarah Cole and Anne Eggebert.

Anniversary cake

The Friends of Valentines Mansion celebrate 20 years!
Georgina Green, research historian at Valentines Mansion, cuts the anniversary cake, watched by Chairman Cherry Hooker and Treasurer Richard Small.

Georgina Green is honoured with the Freedom Of The Mansion

From left to right: Jan Ellery, Manager of Valentines Mansion, Georgina Green, Cherry Hooker

To All and Singular, know ye that at a meeting of the Committee of the Friends Of Valentines Mansion held on the eleventh day of September and at a subsequent meeting of the Valentines Advisory Group held on the eighth day of November 2019, it was unanimously resolved that in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the research of the history of Valentines Mansion in the County Of Essex and as a manifestation of the regard she has thereby earned from the community at large, and the citizens of the Borough Of Redbridge in particular, hereby be admitted the Trusty and Well Beloved personage of Mrs Georgina Green to the decoration of Honorary Freedom Of Valentines Mansion.

We do hereby appoint, give and grant unto Her and one guest of her own choosing, the gift of free admission to any event or special occasion at the afore-mentioned Mansion.  And that she may enjoy and use all the facilities of the Mansion, in witness whereof We have caused these letters to be made. Patent Witness Ourselves at Ilford, the eighth day of December in the sixty-eighth year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second and in the Year Of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nineteen. 

Last year, in February 2019, we filled the house with visitors for an event which we called “Your Valentines”. This was to mark ten years since the completion of the Heritage Lottery funded restoration and we particularly made a feature of our current project, furnishing the Raymond Room to reflect the time Charles Raymond lived at Valentine House, in the 18th century.

The resident artists whose studios are on the second floor and who hold regular Open Studios throughout the year, devised a year-long event in 2019 called Decade, creating a beautiful range and array of works inspired by their love of Valentines Mansion.

One year later, we the Friends – formed in 2000 after plans emerged in 1996 horrifying local residents, and eventually the local council too (!) that this fine historic house might become a pub – have found ourselves celebrating a 20th anniversary with an event last Wednesday 26th February, called “Our Valentines”. We indulged ourselves for the first nine years of our existence in thinking of this wonderful house as “ours” and, as reported by our Chairman Cherry Hooker in her opening presentation, it was a hard thing to do after nine years of hard work bringing it back from its state of neglect, to “hand the house back” to the council. (More about Cherry’s presentation in our next blog post.)

If you visit the house on an Open Day, you will be able to visit the Gallery and see an exhibition mounted to celebrate “Our Valentines“. Please visit and tell us what you think!

First featured artists: Sarah Cole and Anne Eggebert

These artworks are from a series we made during the restoration of Valentines Mansion in 2009. We were invited to respond to the house and grounds while the renovation works were in progress and found ourselves drawn to architectural structures in the grounds and faded décor in the house. 

A fragment of wallpaper in the servants’ quarters at the top of the house, with its little scenes of Venice, prompted our reflections on the Grand Tour and the subsequent Venetian influences on the architecture of Valentines (inflected arches in the Dovecote, canals and ‘ruined’ grottos). We wondered what a young man today might do with these follies.

Traces 2009, drawing on tracing paper

Nothing now remains of the vintage wallpaper except for a photograph and this drawing. In the 1950s someone must have chosen this paper during a period of post-war optimism.  Home décor began to reflect the start of the leisure travel industry so that one might quite literally be surrounded by elsewhere at home.

Folly #1 (Peaks) 2009 photographic transparency 

Folly #4 (Grotto) 2009 photographic print 

These images of free-runner Asid capture the body mid-flight (they are not Photoshopped -we are often asked!).  We were interested to contrast the flight of fancy offered by the garden’s useless extravagant structures alongside the more literal flight of the contemporary free-runner. The still image holds the body above the 18th Century grotto and the elaborate garden wall – their surfaces at odds with the city’s brute architecture usually associated with free-runner acrobatics. The term folly also suggests fragility and a sense of whimsical, perhaps ill-considered, desire.

Other featured artists in the exhibition are Julian Walker, Lisa Atkin, Jason Rose and Amanda Seljubac.

The Friends’ Logo

The design was inspired by the vine that was planted in the 1750s in the walled garden in the time of Charles Raymond.

Of course if you’ve read through our website, you will know the answers to most of these questions. Feel free to email us your answers for a chance to win a prize. Winners will be announced on 26th February at our 20th anniversary event!

1. Who designed the Friends’ logo?

2. How many years ago?

3. What was the name of Charles Raymond’s gardener who planted and tended the vine?

4. What year was it planted?

5. How did the vine survive so well in the English climate and produce such an abundance of grapes?

6. Who may have come to Valentine House in 1768 to take a cutting of the vine for Hampton Court Palace?

7. Who lived at Hampton Court at the time?

8. What variety of grape does the vine bear?

9. What happened to the original Valentines vine?

10. Who designed a special ceramic pot for the cutting of the vine in 2019?

Why not visit us and see the vine now in the walled garden?

Do you know what other fruit are grown in the walled gardens?

View from the Gardener’s Cottage Cafe