Valentines Park

Valentines Park, Redbridge

A public park and neighbouring Edwardian estate situated south of Gants Hill on the north side of central Ilford

Valentines Mansion, Valentines Park

The Valen­tines name prob­a­bly derives from a 16th-cen­tu­ry landown­er. A house was built here in the late 1690s, prob­a­bly for Eliz­a­beth Tillot­son, wid­ow of an arch­bish­op of Can­ter­bury, but suc­ces­sive enlarge­ments and improve­ments have erased almost every trace of this build­ing.

Shown in the pho­to above,* the man­sion that stands today dates pri­mar­i­ly from phas­es of work in 1769 and 1811. The coun­cil acquired most of the grounds and opened them in 1899, orig­i­nal­ly as Cen­tral Park. Fol­low­ing the death of the mansion’s own­er in 1902, Ilford coun­cil bought the remain­der of the grounds and extend­ed the park.

Begun in 1909, the Valen­tines Park estate was one of the last of the Vic­to­ri­an and Edwar­dian schemes that entire­ly trans­formed Ilford from farm­land to sub­urb with­in the space of two decades.

The coun­cil acquired Valen­tines man­sion itself in 1912 and it served as a home for Bel­gian refugees dur­ing the First World War and lat­er as offices for the local pub­lic health author­i­ty.

With the for­ma­tion of the Lon­don Bor­ough of Red­bridge in 1965, Valen­tines became home to the council’s hous­ing ser­vice, which vacat­ed the build­ing in 1993. It lay emp­ty and increas­ing­ly shab­by until its exte­ri­or was restored in 2002. Over £3 mil­lion of coun­cil and lot­tery mon­ey was secured for the ren­o­va­tion of the inte­ri­or, and it is now open to the pub­lic three days a week. Admis­sion is free.

Valen­tines Park is one of east London’s loveli­est spots, with for­mal gar­dens, lakes and land­scaped park­land, as well as 26 ten­nis courts.

The Valen­tines ward nowa­days has a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Asian eth­nic mix, includ­ing sig­nif­i­cant num­bers from Indi­an, Pak­istani and Bangladeshi back­grounds. White British res­i­dents make up 14 per cent of the total. A high pro­por­tion of homes are pri­vate­ly rent­ed.

Postcode area: Ilford IG1
Population: 14,123 (Valentines ward, 2011 census)
Further reading: Len Dowling, Valentines Park, Ilford: A Century of History, Redbridge Libraries, 1999
Website: Valentines Mansion and Gardens
* The picture of Valentines Mansion at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Klovovi, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.