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Museum scoops £35k for a 'jewel in Barking and Dagenham's crown'

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 December 2018

Barking and Dagenham landmarks. Valence House

Barking and Dagenham landmarks. Valence House

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A museum has scooped £35,000 towards raising awareness of Barking's former lords of the manor.

Cllr Saima Ashraf. Picture: LBBDCllr Saima Ashraf. Picture: LBBD

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded Valence House Museum, in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, the money to help its bosses apply for a full grant to preserve and promote its collection of Fanshawe family letters, portraits and papers.

The Fanshawes were lords of the manor of Barking from 1628 to 1857 and lived in manor houses across the borough, including Valence House, Jenkins, Parsloes, and Faulks.

Cllr Saima Ashraf, the council’s deputy leader, said: “We are proud of our rich history and always pleased to celebrate it.

“The Fanshawe collection is of great historical significance. It is one of the jewels in our borough’s crown.

Sir Richard Fanshawe Valence Hse fundraiser. Picture: Valence House MuseumSir Richard Fanshawe Valence Hse fundraiser. Picture: Valence House Museum

“I am delighted to see Valence House receive this support from the National Lottery.”

The grant will help the museum gain material from surviving Fanshawes including a portrait of Sir Richard Fanshawe by the 17th century Dutch painter Sir Peter Lely.

The Fanshawe’s took the king’s side in the English Civil War. Sir Richard went into exile following King Charles I’s execution following the Prince of Wales across western Europe.

After the monarchy was restored, Sir Richard became ambassador to Portugal and Spain. In 1676 his wife, Lady Ann, wrote a memoir about her husband providing a first-hand account of aristocratic life at the time.

Lady Fanshawe Picture: Valence House Museum.Lady Fanshawe Picture: Valence House Museum.

The 56 Fanshawe portraits currently held by Valence House includes works by leading painters of the 17th century: Cornelius Johnson, Lely, Mary Beale and William Dobson, ‘the most excellent painter that England has yet bred’.

It also includes the wedding dowry for Catherine Braganza’s marriage to Charles II.

A touring exhibition looking at women’s involvement in the English Civil War is also planned, with parts of the collection going on loan to other museums and galleries.

A dressing-up activity will also be created allowing visitors to become some of the high society folks shown in the portraits.

By the end of the project, the aim is for the national and international importance of the borough’s Fanshawe treasures to be included in Arts Council England’s designation scheme recognising outstanding collections and raising their profiles.

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