Ground floor galleries
Valence House gallery
This gallery traces the history of the house and surrounding land, and looks at many of the people who have lived here.
You can see a model of Valence House in 1921, when it was still being used as a family home.
Don’t miss the teapot, on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was made to commemorate the marriage of one of the Merttins family, Valence House’s wealthiest residents.
A highlight is the Dagenham Idol, on loan from Colchester and Ipswich Museums.
The Idol is over 4,000 years old and one of the earliest known representations of the human figure in Europe.
Other items include:
- a Roman sarcophagus (stone coffin)
- stone tools
- a Saxon drinking glass
- medieval masonry
Half the gallery is dedicated to the history of Barking Abbey, the Borough’s greatest archaeological site.
The Whalebone Gallery
The bones displayed in this room are believed to be from the lower jaw of a Common Greenland Whale.
Until the 1870s, they formed an arch next to an octagonal toll-house at the junction of Whalebone Lane and Chadwell Heath High Road.
After the demolition of the toll-house, the whalebones were moved to nearby Whalebone House.
When the house was destroyed during an air raid in 1941, the bones were brought here to Valence House.
They flanked our entrance door for many years before being moved to the basement. They are now on view once more, in a custom-built display case.
Roll up, roll up! The Cinema Room
Valence House now boasts its own cinema room, showing films created for The Dagenham Co-operative Film Society.
The Society was founded in 1947, and its first film ‘The Seeds of Time’ (1948) was awarded several national prizes.
020 8227 2034