About

Photo of the outside of the museum buildingsValence House was voted by the Guardian as one of the 50 best free things to do in London. The only surviving manor house in Dagenham, it dates back to Medieval times and is still partially surrounded by a moat. Find out more about the fascinating history of the house here.

Following extensive refurbishment in 2010, exciting galleries tell the story of Barking and Dagenham and its people throughout the ages. As well as exploring the museum, you can discover the tranquil herb garden and Dig for Victory plot, or research local and family history in the Archives and Local Studies Centre. Round off your visit by browsing in the shop or enjoying light refreshments in the Oasis Café. Valence House also offers a year-round programme of events for all the family.

Museum Galleries

Valence House Museum’s core collection totals around 20,000 objects, consisting of a wide range of artefacts which reflect the history and continuing development of the community of Barking and Dagenham. The collection spans a wide period of time, from Prehistory to the modern day. In addition, the Museum holds a large collection of archaeological material and archives from sites across Barking and Dagenham.

Highlights on display include the Dagenham Idol on loan from Colchester and Ipswich Museum, whalebones believed to be from the lower jaw of a Common Greenland Whale and the Fanshawe family portraits, which are one of the best collections of gentry portraits in the Britain. You also won’t want to miss our rare wall-painting that was discovered during the recent refurbishment and is thought to date from 1600.

Much of the collection can be viewed in our themed and interactive galleries that make up the Museum. Objects that are not on display can now be searched online and are available to view by appointment at the discretion of the Museum Curator. To find out more about the Museum Collection please email: valencehousemuseum@lbbd.gov.uk or telephone: 020 8227 2034.

 

Family enjoying explorer backpacks at Valence House Museum.

Barking and Dagenham Archives and Local Studies Centre

Barking and Dagenham Archives and Local Studies Centre collects, preserves and provides access to informational resources on the place and people of Barking and Dagenham, and is situated in the Visitor’s Centre at Valence House.

The archive collection comprises the minute books, departmental records and plans of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and its predecessor authorities dating back to 1558. We also hold deposited papers, including correspondence, diaries and printed ephemera, as well as oral histories, photographs and films, relating to local organisations, businesses, schools, charities, non-conformist churches, families and individuals with connections to Barking and Dagenham.

The local studies collection is made up of printed books, periodicals, newspapers and maps primarily concerning the history of Barking and Dagenham, as well as Essex and London.

Highlights from the archive and local studies collections include the letters of Sir Richard Fanshawe, a manuscript on Victorian Barking written by William Frogley, the records of Samuel Williams and Sons Ltd, log books on air-raids compiled by ARP Wardens and Culpepper’s Complete Herbal Book.

These unique and fascinating resources are made available for all to discover in our reading room, which is situated in the Visitor’s Centre at Valence House. We also have offer free use of Ancestry Library Edition and Find My Past Community Edition.

Please note it is advisable to book an appointment in advance if you wish to view archive material. To make an appointment, please contact us by email localstudies@lbbd.gov.uk or telephone 020 8227 2033.

To ensure that our collections remain relevant, engaging and accessible for the future, we have created a series of policies on key aspects of the archive service including collections management and developmentappraisalpreservationcollections information and access. These policies, together with related plans and procedures make up LBBD Archive’s Collections Framework.

The Garden and Grounds

The Valence House grounds once included the whole of what is now Valence Park. The moat was dug to encircle the house over 700 years ago! Along its banks are swamp cypresses, which glow a spectactular red in autumn. Between the moat and the house sits a spectacular veteran evergreen Holm Oak, judged to be one of the Great Trees of London.

Approaching the house, you can’t miss the tulip tree (Liriodendron). Its orange and yellow flower is the Valence House logo. Other  trees of interest include a ginkgo biloba tree nestles close to the wall to the left of the door, n English Oak (Quercus robur) planted nearby to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and an ancient coppiced hazel between the house and Valence Library.

The Valence House gardens have achieved the prestigious Green Flag and London in Bloom awards. The gardens include a Herb Garden, designed by historic gardens consultant Virginia Nightingale. The central feature is a green pergola, surrounded by box hedging and formal beds of roses and herbs. A patch of lawn has been transformed  into a World War Two ‘Dig for Victory’ Garden, which includes a replica Anderson Shelter.

Installed just outside the Herb Garden, and managed by the Romford Division of the Essex Beekeepers Association. Valence House honey, available to buy in the shop, has been praised for its unique colour and flavour.

Ranger tending the garden.