Agnes de Valence
Leslie Cannon, later Borough Librarian, wrote an article in the Barking Record (number 72, 1966), entitled 'Up spirits!' He quoted from a 1961 Essex Countryside magazine article by Josephine Westren, the grand-daughter of Thomas May, the last private resident of the house.
Ms Westren wrote: 'Agnes de Valence was said to have been murdered and to haunt these lawns. Her ghost was seen by a gardener who approached it, mistaking the apparition for one of the daughters of the house'. She also mentioned a dagger found in the depths of the moat which she says may have been the murder weapon.
Leslie Cannon's article was illustrated with the photo shown right, faked by fellow-librarian Egbert Smart, who used his daughter as model. Such was the convincing style of the narrative and the quality of the photo, that the story soon appeared in collections of true ghost stories, much to the delight of Mr Cannon! Staff were less pleased with people watching all night by the moat hoping for a glimpse of the ghost. There is no known evidence for the theory that Agnes de Valence was murdered.
A more well-attested ghost is that of Eliza Luxmore, mother-in-law of Thomas May. She died at Valence House in 1913 and her ghost has been sighted regularly - a tiny elderly lady dressed in black.
Please contact the museum for details of Ghost Tours.