The Land of the Fanns in partnership with Discover ME (Discover Metropolitan Essex) invited intrepid explorers, history buffs and the plain curious to board ‘Daisy’, a vintage Route Master bus last weekend, on a tour of the fascinating built history in the local landscape.
Daisy, a 1964 open top Route Master, decked out with bunting and the Discover ME banner, offered a day trip aboard vintage transport to see the hidden, historical ‘gems’ that are in the Essex and East London area. Starting and returning to Valence House, the passengers, made up of local people and families, enjoyed an interesting (if somewhat breezy) ride around such sites as Chapel Hospital in Ilford, The Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge on the edge of Epping Forest, Eastbury Manor in Barking, where they enjoyed a buffet lunch, before returning to Valence House for a look around the museum. Each site had it’s own distinctive charm; the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, a charming, tiny, white washed lodge, where Queen Elizabeth the 1st would look out onto the forest landscape and watch a deer hunt while enjoying an extravagant array of Elizabethan fayre.
“Great to ride on an original Routemaster!”
At each location the passengers would alight the bus and have a look around, with an accompanying guide for historical background. Back on the bus they enjoyed the windswept journey on the open top deck before stopping to see the Medieval Hospital Chapel, sited on a traffic island, surrounded by tall, modern skyscrapers and the busy, main highway. As with Eastbury Manor, a 16th Century Manor House situated in the middle of a modern housing estate in Barking, most of these precious historic buildings look an odd sight amongst the modern metropolis.
“There is plenty to see which we never knew about”.
” very interesting, educational and inspiring”.
After a delicious lunch at Eastbury Manor and another guided tour, it was off to our return destination Valence House. Along the way, we heard some fascinating facts from Mark Watson, the Outreach and Educational Officer at Valence House and the event tour guide, about the history of the landscape we were driving through, such as the long, tree lined avenue around Valence Manor that used to be an old railway line!
“I have lived in the area most of my life – but have never visited 3 of the 4 places we went to today.”
Everybody enjoyed the whole day out and most on board said that although they were locals, they had no idea some of these historic buildings existed.
” Didn’t know of the existence of Eastbury Manor or Ilford Hospital Chapel and I live in Wanstead!”
Engaging the local community with these sites is important for the area’s historical legacy for future generations.
“I know about the Discover ME website now!”
“Great tour around and a tasty lunch”
“Ilford Chapel – a wonderful revelation”!
Metropolitan Essex has fascinating sites across Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Havering and Thurrock, ideal for a day out. Intriguing heritage, inspiring architecture and things to do for all the family- visit now, go to Discover ME!
PS: Thank you to all the volunteers and staff of the sites we visited for their friendly welcome and interesting guided tours and to all the staff and volunteers from the Discover ME group who helped out on the day. Thanks also to Matilda Cornwall – Jones for organizing the great lunch at Eastbury Manor.
Debbie Brady , Heritage Engagement Officer, Land of the Fanns