Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Dagenham was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 677 as Daeccenham, from the old English personal name Daecca, and ham, meaning homestead or village. Throughout much of its later history, it remained essentially rural, only beginning to become (sub)urbanised and industrialised in the early twentieth century. It is now part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, created in 1965.
The Manor of Valence was first recorded as long ago as 1269. There was evidently a manor house here at or around that time, which further records indicate was occupied by Agnes de Valence after the death of her third husband in 1291 (*). The estate was sold to St Anthony’s Hospital in London in 1435, and then granted by Edward IV to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor in 1475. It was rented out to a succession of tenants in the post-Medieval and later periods, including the Bonham family in the seventeenth century, the Mertons in the eighteenth, and the Mays in the nineteenth, before being acquired by Dagenham Urban District Council in 1926.
The surviving manor house, which is now home to the Valence House Museum, shows evidence of building or rebuilding activity from every century from the fifteenth onwards.
The museum features a number of fine displays on the history of the local area, including one on Valence House itself …
… and another on Barking Abbey, which lay approximately three miles to the south-west.
It also houses a famous collection of portraits of the Fanshawe family (Lords of the Manor of Barking for many generations).
(*) Agnes de Valence was of noble birth, being the grand-daughter of Isabella of Angouleme, wife of King John.