Victorian Valentines

In 1838 Charles Holcombe purchased Valentines and moved there with his wife Margaret and his niece, Sarah Oakes, who had been under his care since infancy. He was an industrialist who ran a brass foundry, and a tar and asphalt works at Greenwich. He is also described as a "refiner of coal tar, spirit, pitch and varnish". He built a wharf with a road and some houses, and a pub called The Sea Witch, at the side of the Thames (destroyed in 1940).

In 1850 Sarah Oakes married Clement M.Ingleby and went to live in his home town of Edgbaston where they had four children. In April 1860 Mrs. Margaret Holcombe died and around this time the Inglebys moved back to Valentines. There is a table tomb to Margaret and Charles Holcombe (1792-1870) in the churchyard of St.Mary's church in Ilford High Road.

Mrs Ingleby became a typical upper class Victorian lady.

  • Her life spanned 1823 - 1906; Queen Victoria lived from 1819 to 1901
  • Victoria was crowned in 1838, the year Sarah moved to Valentines
  • Sarah married in 1850; Queen Victoria had married ten years earlier
  • The Great Exhibition was held in 1851 and Charles Holcombe may have been an exhibitor
  • Mrs Beeton published her book on household management in 1859-60, just as Mrs Ingleby moved back to Valentines with her young family
  • Prince Albert died in 1861
  • When Mrs Ingleby died on 3rd January 1906 her obituary noted her many acts of generosity, particularly in the Beehive neighbourhood where many of the estate workers lived.

The 1861 Census for Valentines Mansion

Name of person Relation to head Condition Age Male Age Fem. Rank, Profession or Occupation Where Born
Charles T. Holcombe Head Widower 68   Landed Proprietor Surrey, Southwark
Sarah Ingleby Niece Mar.   37   Kent, Gravesend
Holcombe Ingleby Gt.Nephew   7     Warwickshire, Birmingham
Herbert Ingleby Gt.Nephew   4     Warwickshire, Birmingham
Clementina R. Ingleby Gt.Niece     3   Warwickshire, Birmingham
Alexander Findley Servant Mar. 35   Butler Scotland, - ?
Martha Findley Servant Mar.   33 Housekeeper Sussex, Farnhurst
Martha Parker Servant Unm.   24 Nurse Leicestershire, - ?
Ruth Adams Servant Unm.   24 Lady's Maid Essex, Waltham Abbey
Rosetta Steward Servant Unm.   24 Housemaid Middx, Whitechapel
Mary Henna Servant Unm.   18 Housemaid Suffolk, - ?
Eliza Millishanks Servant Unm.   19 Kitchen Maid Salop, - ?
William Southgate Servant Unm. 17   Footman Suffolk, Honiton

Dr.Clement Ingleby was not at home on the night of the census - perhaps he was with relatives in Birmingham. The eldest son, Arthur (aged 9) was also away from home, probably at boarding school. It is surprising that no governess is shown on the census but perhaps the education of the younger children was carried out by Mrs.Ingleby and the nurse, under her supervision.

In the most affluent homes in 1861, the laundry would have been the responsibility of a single live-in maid, or middle class ladies would have sent their laundry out to be washed. At Valentines in 1861 no laundress was shown living in, but with a young family the washing may well have been the responsibility of a local woman who lived nearby. Other employees lived in cottages on the estate: John Smith, aged 56, was the coachman; James Black, aged 69 was the farm bailiff; John Warren, aged 48, was shown as an agricultural labourer and Richard Gough, aged 36, was the gardener. No doubt other farm workers lived nearby. The family must have kept a number of horses to ride, to pull carriages, or to work on the farm.

Although we do not know much about the daily lives of the Ingleby family, perhaps the diary of Ellen Buxton who lived in similar circumstances at Leytonstone, will be of interest. Although members of the Church of England, Ellen's family had a strong Quaker influence but it is worth noting that the Ingleby's eldest son became a clergyman. The Rev Arthur Ingleby, M.A., became the Chaplain of St.Mary's Hospital Chapel at Ilford in 1882, a position he held for ten or so years. He was responsible for the installation of the stained glass windows showing St.Clement, Pope and Martyr, and St.Valentine, Priest and Martyr, both designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) in memory of his father, Dr.Ingleby.

NB: Redbridge Museum runs teaching sessions on Victorian childhood and Victorian laundry. A Victorian resource pack for teachers is available from the Museum and includes local history information, pre and post visit worksheets and colour postcards of Victorian objects from the Museum's collections. For further information contact the Redbridge Museum Manager, Gerard Greene ( on 020 8708 2317.

For further details about the Ingleby family or the history of Valentines Mansion, including the census for other years, please contact Georgina Green.