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 History of the mansion

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lee
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Join date : 2008-02-10
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Location : Leicester

PostSubject: History of the mansion   Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:43 pm

Valentines Mansion was built around 1696-7. It is considered by English Heritage to be "of outstanding architectural or historic interest or of great importance to the nation's built heritage" and is Grade II* listed. Not a grand building, it was a family home for a gentleman of high status.

Valentines Mansion was built in the late seventeenth century by James Chadwick, son-in-law of John Tillotson, the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1724 it was purchased by Robert Surman, Deputy Cashier to his uncle at the infamous South Sea Company. Between 1724 and 1754 Surman enlarged and improved the house and gardens. Many features typical of the early eighteenth century were added at this time including the Long Pond, a planned wilderness and a ha-ha. Surman was probably also responsible for the grottoes, then a highly fashionable garden feature.

In 1754 it was purchased by Charles Raymond (1713-88), a wealthy naval officer who continued to expand and improve the house and grounds. The date 1769, with the Raymond family crest, can be seen on the rainwater heads above the mansion's drainpipes. In 1758 Raymond planted a Black Homburg vine and the 'Valentines Vine' soon became famous for its vigorous growth. A cutting sent to Hampton Court Palace was the start of the celebrated vine there. The Valentines Vine eventually died of old age but its site is today marked by a commemorative tablet.

Donald Cameron was the next owner of the estate, now over 400 acres. On his death in 1797 it was split up and 174 acres were sold with the house to Robert Wilkes. In 1808 it was bought by Charles Welstead at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Tree planting was being actively encouraged to ensure a continuing supply of timber for ships and many of the trees around the lakes and along the streams date from this time. Welstead was a fellow of the Horticultural Society and may have been responsible for modifying the ornamental lake into a naturalistic feature and building the Bower Walk, the remains of which were cleared in the late 1970s. He also substantially repaired and altered the house including converting the orangery into a dairy wing and installing the porte cochère (colonnaded entrance).

Charles Holcombe, a prosperous industrialist, purchased the estate in 1838. Holcombe's heir was his niece Sarah Oakes, who in 1850 married Clement lngleby, a lawyer from Edgbaston. In 1870 Sarah inherited Valentines at the same time as William Earley, a well-known horticulturist and rose enthusiast, was made head gardener. The Rosery and the American Gardens date from the late nineteenth century.

Land Sold to Ilford
By the end of the nineteenth century, Ilford had expanded from a quiet Essex village to become a large east London suburb. Clement and Sarah Ingleby were respected local citizens and philanthropists. In 1899 Mrs Ingleby sold land south of the mansion to the then Ilford Urban District Council for use as a public park.

Central Park (or Cranbrook Park as it was also known) opened in 1899 on land which had previously been arable farm land, meadow and brickfields. It was designed around today's boating lake. A boathouse, clock-tower, bandstand and refreshment pavilion were all part of the original design.

On her death, Valentines was inherited by Sarah's second son, Holcombe Ingleby. In 1907 he gave the older gardens near the mansion to the people of Ilford in memory of, his parents. lt was at this time that the park was renamed Valentines Park.

In 1912 a specially formed group, the Valentines Park Extension Council, campaigned to save as much as possible of the estate from development. Holcombe Ingleby sold the land for £10,630 and the house and its outbuildings for a mere £1,000 to Ilford Council and retired to his estates in Norfolk. The mansion and its immediate grounds were absorbed into the park and the Old English Garden planted in the former walled garden. The final addition to the Park came in the1920 s when the golf course, lido and model yacht pond were laid out on what had been Middlefield Farm.

The Second World War saw large areas of allotments in both Melbourne and Pageant fields. After the war these were reinstated into the landscape of the Park. The Park was maintained by municipal staff until the loss of the permanent gardening force in the 1980s.
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