More details revealed of £1.2m Dagenham manor house makeover

More details have been revealed about a £1.2million makeover that will transform the only surviving manor house in Dagenham.

Major conservation and building works are already under way at Valence House Museum and are expected to be completed by 2025/2026.

The Grade II* listed building on Becontree Avenue has been traced back to medieval times and was first referenced in 1269. Throughout the centuries, it has been used as an important location for historical events including for air raid drills during the Second World War and was once visited by Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1926, Valence House was one of five manors at risk of being bulldozed to make way for the Becontree Estate but was saved after then-Dagenham Urban District Council bought the site and began using it as an office. It now stands as the only surviving manor house in Dagenham but has become ‘chronically underfunded’, according to Barking and Dagenham Council.

A cabinet report published ahead of a meeting next week (February 19) notes a lack of money has caused the site to have limited opening hours and a ‘skeleton staffing structure’ with a ‘long list’ of urgent conservation and building works. In 2023, the council was awarded £811,250 from Arts Council England’s Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) plus an extra grant of £70,000 so urgent works can take place at Valence House.

The project has since received a £150,000 capital grant from the UK Shared Prosperity and an additional £175,000 from the council’s Parks Commissioning capital budget for lakes and watercourses – taking the funding total to £1,206,250.

Money will be spent on improving the medieval north moat, repairs to the main museum building, roof replacements, drainage repairs, new external doors for the visitor centre and archives building, re-plastering spaces inside the visitor centre and archives building and a new air ventilation system.

The council hopes the revamp will eventually attract more visitors to the borough as well growing its Heritage Education provision which will ensure all children in the borough has access.

The plans will be discussed by cabinet members next week, who have been encouraged to approve the £1.2m project.

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Ruby Gregory

Local Democracy Reporter

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