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Collection Summary

Collection Title
Fanshawe family portrait collection
The Fanshawe Collection comprises paintings, letters and official papers relating to 500 years of Fanshawe family history. The collection was given to Valence House Museum by Captain Aubrey Fanshawe, R.N, in 1963. His father, Basil, had spent many years bringing the collection together.

In 2004, Valence House Museum received a further seven portraits following the death of Aubrey’s widow Anne. With the 46 paintings from the original donation they form one of the best collections of gentry portraits in the country.

The Fanshawes came originally from Derbyshire. Henry Fanshawe (1506-68) was the first to acquire land locally. He bought the manors of Jenkins and Fulks in Barking, and also Valence estate, although the family never lived here and it was quickly sold on. In 1613 the manor of Parsloes, Dagenham, was added to the family holdings.

Henry served in the Exchequer for 40 years, succeeding to the post of Queen Elizabeth I’s Remembrancer in 1566. He was the first of nine Fanshawe’s to hold this position, and it is through this that the family gained their money and status. For over 500 years, the Fanshawes held important positions both locally and nationally, as royal advisors, Lords of the Manor of Barking and Vicars.

The collection contains works by Willaim Dobson, Sir Peter Lely, Marcus Gheereadts the Younger, and Mary Beale, among many others. .
Star Item(s)
Sir Richard Fanshawe (1608-1666) by William Dobson.
One family, identified sitters, family history
Date range of collection
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
general interest
Associated Places
Details also available
This collection is about

Location Details

Valence House Museum
Becontree Avenue Dagenham Essex RM8 3HT United Kingdom
Open Map
020 8270 6866
020 8270 6868 
Visiting Information
Open Monday to Friday 9.00-16.30, Saturday 10.00-16.00.
Valence House Museum is currently closed to the public to undergo a major redevelopment project. We will reopen in Spring 2010.
Building Information
A house has stood on the Valence site since the 13th century. It is first mentioned in a property transaction of 1269 when Robert de Dyne (or Dyve) conveyed it to Gillian, widow of Hugh de Dyne. The area and surrounding roads take their names from later tenants of the estate, Agnes de Valence and her brother Aylmer, Earl of Pembroke, who occupied the land in the early 1300s. Agnes and Aylmer came from a wealthy family, with royal connections, who originally came from the Valence province of France. The Manor of Valence was the largest estate in Dagenham. Although within the larger manor of Barking, it was held by free tenants who paid a yearly ‘fine’ for the property and so it did not form part of the Abbey’s demesne land. During the 14th and 15th centuries the estate was extended to include the properties of Gallance, Frizlands and East Hall. It passed through several owners until 1475 when it was given to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor who continued to own the property until 1867; then, vested in the Church Commissioners, it was sold to the London County Council in 1921. The last person to use Valence House as a home was Thomas May, who lived there with his wife, their 12 children and his mother-in-law from 1878 to 1921. Today’s Valence House is a Grade II* listed, moated and timber framed building. It is the only surviving manor house in Dagenham. The existing structure dates from the 15th century with additions or remodelling made in every century since it was built. It was once a much larger house as there is evidence that a wing was pulled down in 1863. In 1921, the London County Council bought the building to use the land for the development of the Becontree Estate. However, Dagenham Urban District Council needed a temporary location for its Council Chambers and bought the property in 1928 for this purpose. It was this that saved the house from destruction although it was at this stage that the most modern extension was added to the house, to provide the council with a chamber large enough for their meetings. Valence House was used as Dagenham’s town hall until 1937 when the Civic Centre was completed. After that is was used as Dagenham’s, and later Barking and Dagenham’s, Library headquarters. During this time there was one room dedicated to telling the area’s history. When Barking Library was built in 1974, Valence House officially became the Borough’s Local History Museum and today it accommodates the Museum, Archives and Local Studies Library.
Collections Overview
Archaeology, local social and economic history, fine art especially topographical pictures, Fanshawe portraits. Archive is housed here too. Archaeology includes excavation archives transferred from Newham Museum Service 1990s.
Display Overview
Displays cover history of the borough, including excavated material from local sites, fishing industry, topographical art, together with reconstructions of a 1945 living room and kitchen typical of Dagenham's massive Becontree Estate.
Star Objects
The Fanshawe family portraits & archive presented in 1963., including internationally important diplomatic papers of Sir Richard Fanshawe 1608-1666, Ambassador to Spain and Portugal.
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

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Management Information (Type)
Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
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Associated Collection(s)

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