Overview and 1848 plan

1848 plan

Until the restoration, the mansion's floor plan was essentially as it was in 1848. The only major addition was a new wing in 1871 added to the morning room.

Overview

The present house was built around 1696-7 designed as a comfortable home for a lady of high class, Elizabeth Tillotson, widow of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although built in the Baroque era, at the same time as Chatsworth in Derbyshire and Petworth in Sussex, it is not grand or pretentious but a modest building of quality. In spite of later changes much of the original panelling and joinery is still visible at Valentines. In her will, dated November 1701, Mrs.Tillotson itemised several bequests located in her own bedroom, her closet, her dressing room, and in an unfurnished room with carved work over the chimney. Perhaps, like Chatsworth and Petworth, there was carving by Grinling Gibbons at Valentines, as later mentioned by Lysons (1796) in his historical account to the Environs of London.

 

When Robert Surman, purchased the mansion he enlarged and improved the house and gardens some time between 1724-1754. In fact the date 1724 is written on panelling behind the cladding in an upstairs room.

Thirty years later Charles Raymond purchased the estate and he continued reconstructing the house which today has the external appearance of an 18th century building. The date 1769 can be seen with his family crest on the rainwater heads above three of the drainpipes.

Perhaps the greatest changes were made by Charles Welstead soon after he bought the estate in 1808. Pictures of the house from the late 18th century show a large porch on the south side of the house, but Welstead removed this, inserting a canopy and balcony, above and below the first floor centre window. Instead he used the north side for his entrance, building the impressive colonnaded carriageway or porte cochere. He was responsible for converting the Georgian orangery to the west of the house into domestic offices. He also built a new style "conservatory" against the east side of the mansion.

The next owner, Charles Holcombe, seems to have been largely content with the structure of the house, possibly installing the new kitchen range when his niece and her husband (Dr. and Mrs Ingleby) moved in at Valentines with their young family in 1860. Soon after inheriting the mansion when Holcombe died in 1870, they built a two storey extension, adding a room on the north-east.

The council purchased the Mansion and the remaining parkland in 1912 but left the building structurally as they found it. Under the ownership of the council the building was allowed to deteriorate, largely due to lack of resources, until 2000.

Externally much was done to improve the structure and appearance of the mansion when it was restored in 2000. The brickwork was re-pointed, window frames were repaired, the metal fire-escape was removed, and the roof was replaced, at a total cost of £310,000 paid by Redbridge Council. The porte cochere was carefully restored thanks to a special grant of £25,000 from English Heritage.