About Us

History of the School

A Potted History of Valence – with possible activities


Owner + interesting info

Possible activity



Likely to have been a settlement or farmstead in vicinity of Valence.  Artefacts have been found incl. bronze age hammer, arrowheads, Palaeolithic implements and flint axe head dated at 2,500 BC




William, Earl of Gloucester gave Haimo de Valoines 10 parcels of land at Brasted as reward for ‘attending his lord at wars’– name of Valence believed to have come from Valoines name.

Notice of reward


Not known

William Casinghurst – long established family in Westerham.  Had connections with gallant warriors but unclear if related directly to William.



Not known

John Islip – Abbot of Westminster during reign of Henry VIII.  Signed letter to Pope supporting Henry’s divorce.  Did much building work to Westminster Abbey.

Letter to Pope





3 generations of Middleton Family, all called William.  The 1st William Middleton had been the faithful servant of John Islip and was rewarded with Valence. During Middleton ownership, Valence changed from simple farmstead to small country house.




Jacob Verzelini –famous Venetian glassmaker.  Used Valence for timber supply and country house.  10 of his glasses remain incl one at British Museum

Advert for Verzelini glass







The Mannings family owned Valence estate for much of the 17th Century.  They were a large and eminent family from Westerham area, probably merchants from Hamburg. In 1700 Thomas or Ranulph Manning is thought to have modernised Valence including installing the chimney piece with “festoons of flowers”, fruit and the head of Aurrora.  This chimney piece was moved to the new Valence mansion and still remains today.

Notice of sale – description of house and contents












During 18th Century Valence changed hands many times.  Some owners were entrepreneurs but all were strangers to the area and left when the going got tough.

Colonel Henry Harrison – nothing known about him.

William Turner – nothing known about him.

Captain Peter Denis – distinguished naval captain who went on to become an MP. Collected items from travels including maps and naval paintings.

William McQuire – former governor of Patna in Bengal.  Gained a bad reputation for Valence for ‘unprincipled licentiousness’








Gossip magazine article on Valence scandal?



Earl of Hillsborough known as Wills Hill – most distinguished owner of Valence.  Changed name from Valence to Hill Park “almost rebuilt this seat and greatly improved the park and ground around it”.  MP and held various government posts although not considered a very talented politician by some.  Lived with wife Mary Legge and used Hill Park for easy access to London.  During this time, it is thought that Hill employed Capability Brown to construct the model dairy plus other architectural and possibly landscape work.

1780 Archbishop of Canterbury (Cornwallis) and family withdrew to Hill Park when the Palace of Lambeth was being threatened by a mob during riots.

Letter from Wills Hill to Capability Work describing work to be carried out.



John Cottin – had once been Sherrif of Kent but bankrupt by 1796 and estate passed to trustees and intermediaries.




John Barrow




Thomas Jesson – Iron master from West Bromwich




David Baillie – landed proprietor.  5 children and wife lived with him.  There are lots of photographs of the family and domestic staff.  The 1851 census shows that there were about 14 members of staff working at Hill Park.

List or day in life routines for different staff roles at Valence.



Hector John Toler – 3rd Earl of Norbury bought Hill Park.  Changed name back to Valence.  Buried at Westerham Church.  Very eccentric – wandered around Valence Park at dead of night and took morning bath on verandah outside his room.  Lived with wife and 4 daughters.

1861 census shows family and 19 staff living at Valence

1871 census shows only Toler and 4 staff at Valence.  It is thought that he lost all of his money and family may have fled.

Diary entries for Toler detailing his decline or comic strip of eccentricities.



William J Young – wealthy cotton merchant.  Son, John Young, drowned in 1879 whilst fishing on a lake at Valence.

Modernisation of mansion undertaken including electric bells, gas from estate and electric power for up to 40 Swan Lamps.

News article on drowning.



Norman Watney – Director of Watney Breweries.  Married with 8 children. Soon after buying the estate he had plans drawn up for a new mansion (the current Valence building) and this was built by Durtnell 1885 – 1887. Watney and his family were much involved in the social life of Westerham e.g. Watney was a church warden, his son was captain of the cricket team, several daughters were involved in annual fetes for the Church.  Nearly every year between 1894 and 1904, the Watneys held 2 balls: one for their friends and the other for servants and tradesmen. School treat visits were made to Valence and other celebrations were held here e.g. Queen Victoria’s jubilee fireworks and a grand dinner to celebrate the end of the Boer war.

Watney made extensive changes to the gardens and provision was made for many sports made popular in this era: tennis courts, a sports pitch used for rounders, croquet and cycling parades were held.

Mrs Watney remained at Valence after her husband’s death in 1911.  After her death in 1916, the Valence state was uninhabited and could not be sold until 1919.

Invite to a ball, fete poster etc. Film of sports at time?



Dunsdale – another grand house on the Valence estate – was used as a Red Cross Hospital.  Lucy Watney, from Watney family, worked as a Red Cross nurse.  1st  wounded soldiers (54) arrived from Belgium in 1914. Records of some soldiers’ deaths and burials in Westerham.

Diary of soldier or Lucy Watney. Postcard.



Cecil Ireland Blackburne – also regularly mentioned for being involved in social and fundraising activities in Westerham.




Ronald Arthur Vestry – successful businessman in shipping and meat industries – Union Cold Store.  During WW2 moved offices from London to Valence and his family lived in Bailiff’s House (now Mr Gooding’s house).


Notice of new address at Valence.



KCC bought Valence initially as Laleham School for Delicate Girls and then in 1951 it became Valence School for Physically Disabled Children.

School prospectus based on information from school in 1951.



Great Storm reduced trees in Valence Wood massively




Fire gutted 1/3 of mansion.  21 fire fighters and 130 personnel in attendance.  Rebuilt over next 12 months.

Interview Sue Wilkins.  Breaking news programme based on info found out.



Valence School Diamond Jubilee



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