This month’s Open House event will give access to the Redbridge’s architectural and historical gems. Reporter LARA KEAY investigates...

The Temple, Wanstead Park, Aldersbrook (Sunday, September 18)

In Tudor times there was a small manor house called Wanstead Hall, which was later acquired by King Henry VII.

But the Wanstead House building, of which only the Temple and Grotto still remain, was built in 1760.

After being passed around three families called the Childs, the Tylneys and the Longs, Catherine Tylney Long inherited the Palladian mansion in the early 1800s.

Catherine became England’s richest heiress, before she married William Wellesley Pole.

Their story ended sadly when his avid gambling meant the house had to be demolished in 1825 to repay his debts.

The Temple was originally used as a summer house, it is located a few 100 metres away from the Grotto.

Woodford County High School for Girls, Woodford Green (Sunday, September 18)

What is now Woodford County High School for Girls has seen several different uses over the past 300 years.

Originally built in 1768 as a luxury home for a family called the Warners, the then-called Highams Manor had a ballroom and a chapel and was equipped with a full set of kitchen staff and servants.

At the start of The Great War in 1914, the manor was converted into Woodford and Wanstead Military Hospital.

It became a school for girls in 1919 when the Warner family agreed to lease their manor to Essex County Council, who set up a girls’ school there.

When war struck again in 1939 the house was used as an education office and Red Cross depot, while the school was evacuated to Bedford.

Valentines Mansion, Ilford (Sunday, September 18)

The impressive manor house dates back to the late 1600s.
Between 1725 and 1764 it was owned by Robert Surnam and Charles Raymond who both made significant improvements to the original luxury home.

After its then owner Sarah Ingleby died in 1906, Ilford Urban District Council acquired the mansion, located just over a mile away from its headquarters at Ilford Town Hall.

During the First World War the council agreed to house wartime refugees there, accommodating nearly 300 of them between 1914 and 1918.

From 1925 until the end of World War Two it was used as office space by the Department of Health, before Redbridge Council transformed it into its housing department when it was established in 1965.

Despite its impressive features, which include a beautiful Venetian window and spiralling staircase, Valentines Mansion became derelict and finally empty in 1993.

After a comprehensive restoration project, the Grade II-listed building reopened to the public in 2009.

For information and tickets on Redbridge's Open House events, see the website.