History of the grounds
The whole of Valence Park was once part of the grounds of the house. The moat is over 700 years old. It is mentioned in a lease of 1290 relating to Agnes de Valence.
An inventory of 1649, when Valence was occupied by Thomas Bonham, mentions a barn, wood yard, pigeon house, stables, cow house, orchard and garden. In later years a walled kitchen garden, with greenhouses heated by a stove, was laid out to the west of the house.
An 18th century lease mentions fruit trees planted around the moat, including apple trees recently imported from America. There were also two great cedars.
By 1869 traditional garden paths had been laid out beside flower borders. A thatched swan house had been built in the moat. By the end of the 19th century a croquet lawn and grass tennis court had been added.
Survivals from the past
Between Valence House and Valence Library is an ancient coppiced hazel tree. It is part of the remains of a 'nut walk' spreading towards the moat. The nut trees once edged a path lined with roses and other herbaceous plants, and were interplanted with crab apple trees.
Ancient yews and holly hedges still shield Valence Park and Valence Library from Becontree Avenue. Several oaks continue to thrive, including a spectacular evergreen Holm oak listed as one of the Great Trees of London.
There are two distinctive trees near the front door of Valence House. The most prominent is a tulip tree (Liriodendron), the yellow flower of which is portrayed in the Valence House logo. Nearby, nestling close to a wall of the house, is a ginkgo biloba tree. Both can be seen in the photo of the house on this page.