Page 6 - HGS Suburb News 139 - Summer 2019
P. 6

Avenue House, a Grade II listed, local gem

      Avenue House is a Grade II listed                                                                          for many years as a public   development of the famous blue-
      house, which belonged to Henry                                                                             library, and as the offices of   black writing fluid, the growth of
      Charles Stephens also known as                                                                             Finchley Borough Council.  the Company and the life and
      ‘Inky’ Stephens. He was the son                                                                          PHOTOS: TERRY BROOKS  In 1989 the east wing of the   work of Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens.
      of Dr Henry Stephens (1796–                                                                                house was gutted by fire, but it   Guided  tours  of  the  Estate
      1864) who invented an indelible                                                                            was restored thanks to the inter-  are available by prior arrangement,
      ‘blue-black writing fluid’. The                                                                            vention of Margaret Thatcher who   as are lunch and dinner packages.
      British government made it the                                                                             was then the MP for Finchley,   A  range  of  events  and
      mandatory ink for legal documents                                                                          and the Prime Minister.    activities are offered throughout
      and ships’ log books. In its day it                                                                           The House and Gardens are   the year both for children and
      revolutionised office life – much                                                                          now managed by an independent   adults. They include pond dipping,
      time previously had been spent                                                                             charitable body, the Avenue   Easter egg hunts, quiz nights,
      mixing inks and cleaning nibs.                                                                             House Estate Trust, which took   gardening mornings and shared
         Inky Stephens inherited his                                                                             over responsibility from London   reading taster sessions. Two of
      father’s company in 1864 at the                                                                            Borough of Barnet in 2002.  the most popular events are the
      age of 23 upon the sudden death of                                                                            The House is a meetings and   Halloween Spooktacular, which
      his father, and went on to develop                                                                         events venue. Various rooms in   includes a ghost hunt in the
      it into a successful multinational                                                                         the house can be rented for both   gardens,  and  the  Summer  Fête
      business. He also found the time                                                                           business and private functions,  complete  with  live  music  and
      to  be  the MP for the  Hornsey                                                                            including weddings.        maypole dancing.
      and Finchley constituency from                                                                                The gardens and arboretum   The gardens also play host to
      1887 to 1900.                                                                                              are open to the public free  of   a seated statue of Spike Milligan,
         In 1874 Stephens purchased                                                                              charge and the stables have been   which encourages you to join
      Avenue House in East End Road                                                                              transformed into a cafe serving   him and share a conversation.
      and ten acres of adjacent land.   time and today they consist of a   a dairy, an abattoir, and room   company  at  Cholderton  in   snacks, light lunches, hot and   MARIE-CHRISTINE O’CALLAGHAN
      At that time it was a small villa   mixed landscape which includes   for farriers. It also provided   Wiltshire where he built his   cold beverages and ice cream.
      dating from 1851. Henry under-  a unique arboretum, a rockery,  housing for the principal estate   country home. The Cholderton   The coach house has become   For more information please visit:
      took a four-year building project   a bog garden, a large park area   workers. The castellated walls of   and District Water Company was   a small museum dedicated to
      and the family moved into the   to play in and wooded areas to   the Bothy make it distinct and   established by Act of Parliament   the history of the Stephens Ink   Stephens House & Gardens, 17 East
      House in 1878. As well as the   enjoy. The arboretum has some   clearly different from the house   in 1904 and was incorporated   Company. It aims to show, the   End Road, N3 3QE.
      usual rooms, the House included   unusual trees such as the Common   and other buildings on the estate.  as a private limited company.
      a library, school rooms and a   Medlar Mespilus Germanica as   Inky Stephens was very much   Throughout the many changes
      laboratory where Henry, who   well as ten varieties of oak trees.  a man of his time. He set up a   in the water industry Cholderton
      had trained as a chemist, ran a   Henry Stephens had farm   domestic electricity system for the   has remained an independent
      series of experiments.     buildings (now called The Bothy)   house and constructed a Water   privately-owned company (www.
         Henry asked Robert Marnock   built with their own gardens.  Tower, which originally serviced
      to design the gardens. Marnock   They were originally designed as   the domestic water supply to the   The house and grounds were
      was one of the leading land-  kitchen gardens and it is probable   house and an adjoining laundry.  left for public enjoyment by
      scape gardeners of the mid-19th   that Marnock, with his expertise   The Water Tower is a 9m high   Stephens in his will. At the time
      century who strove to achieve the   in hot houses, advised on the   octagonal,  reinforced  concrete   of his death in 1918 it was in use
      effects found in nature within   layout, as well as the orientation   structure with pebble-dashed   as a Voluntary Aid Detachment
      intensively managed gardens.  and the positioning of the glass-  render and crenelated top,  Hospital, and between 1919 and
         Marnock’s Gardenesque design   houses. There was even a tropical   matching the Bothy corner towers.  1925, the RAF central hospital.
      focused on trees and hard land-  house with palms. The Bothy   In point of fact he was so   The grounds were formally
      scape with integral water features.   allowed the whole estate to be   interested in the reliable supply   opened to the public on 3 May
      The gardens have evolved over   self-sufficient, as it had fish ponds,  of water that he set up a water  1928. The house was then used

        Heritage, now and then                              Nash’s Regent’s Park and Regent   were part of this effort; the
                                                                                      Glasgow flats no longer exist
                                                            Street, while the movement against
                                                            overcrowded and low quality   but the Pimlico estate is now a
      The annual Michael Rowley   our built landscape; the different   housing for working families led   conservation area with some   ADRIAN PINGSTONE
      lecture this year was given on   movements in this country
                                                            to housing associations such as the
      June 2 in the Meeting House on   affecting both development   Peabody Trust in 1862 creating   blocks Grade II listed.
                                                                                         Meanwhile in Roehampton,
      the subject of ‘Heritage Now and   and redevelopment.  decent urban accommodation.   the Alton West estate, with
      Then’ by James Stourton, Fellow   Looking at how we live in   In a rural setting Nash designed   more Grade II listed towers, is a
      of the Institute of Historical   an urban context the speaker
      Research and a member of the   identified what he considered   Blaise Hamlet for retired employees   local example of Le Corbusier’s
                                                            of the Quaker banker, John
      Panel of the Heritage Memorial   to be two periods of great   Scandrett Harford. Built around   l’unité d’habitation – la Cité
                                                                                      radieuse. The 1946 New Town Act
      Fund, amongst other things.  disruption. The first was related   1811, it is regarded by some as   allowed for grander developments
         The title, Heritage Now and   to  the  consequences  of  the
      Then, reveals the purpose of the   Industrial Revolution and then   the original garden suburb.  with Milton Keynes being the
                                                                                      most famous example of such
                                                               Model estates for workers gave
      talk to mark the 50th anniversary   the spread of the railways.  us, most famously, Port Sunlight   a development.
      of the designation of the Suburb   The antidote to unplanned   and Bournville, while Ebenezer   For James Stourton the
      as a conservation area in 1969.  development in cities can be seen
      The speaker took his audience   in St Petersburg, Washington DC,   Howard and the garden city   second great disruption occurred
                                                            movement produced Letchworth,  post-war with the destruction of
      on a trip through the history of   Paris and, closer to home, John
                                                            our own Suburb, and later Welwyn.  the built environment and loss
                                                            Green spaces were preserved for   of landscape between 1965 and   Circular Cottage at Blaize Hamlet
                                   I specialise in all domestic and  London in places like Epping  1985. The rise of car ownership,  Bath and Covent Garden, to name   allowed for the creation of
                                      commercial carpentry   Forest and Hampstead Heath.  and the need to accommodate   two famous cases, developments   conservation areas such as ours.
                                  to the highest possible standards  The 1900’s brought more   the  car, along with a loss of   all over the country were stopped   Although the UK consistently
                                                            state intervention with various   sense of place gave rise to a   or reviewed.  builds  fewer  houses  than  it
                                  Professional decorating services   housing laws, and the need for   great deal of redevelopment   There was reaction in the   needs,  with worries  about
                                  also managed with over 10 years   4 to 5 million homes after the   and new development.  world of politics as well when a   quality as building regulations
                                        of excellence       war meant an investment in high-  Public disquiet at the loss of   cross party alliance between Dick   and standards are being relaxed,
                                                            density housing estates. The   much loved buildings and green   Crossman and Duncan Sandys   there are beacons of hope. The
                                  Call now for a free quotation  Red Road Flats in Glasgow and   spaces gave rise to preservation   helped the passage of the Civic   brown-field Accordia development
                                                            Churchill Gardens in Pimlico   movements, and so in places like   Amenities Act of 1967, which   in Cambridge demonstrates
           For all your professional                        Highcliffe slab blocks, Alton West estate                                       modern sustainable residential
              carpentry needs                                                                                housing. The growing cohousing
                                                                                                                                            move-ment is another example
                                                                                                                                            of future possibilities; Marmalade
                                                                                                                                            Lane, again in Cambridge, was
        Welcome to                                                                                                                          offered as a showcase for
                                                                                                                                            cohousing, again sustainable.
         St Jude’s                                                                                                                          through over two centuries of
                                                                                                                                              James Stourton took us
                                                                                                                                            urban development  in just
        Sundays:                                                                                                                            under an hour, and made it
                                                                                                                                            possible to see our transient
         8am  Said Eucharist                                                                                                                present in its context – the
        10.30am  Sung Eucharist                                                                                                             history before and the possible
                                                                                                                                            future beyond.
                                 All Welcome                                                                                                  The present housing situation
                                                                                                                                            worries him greatly and he feels
                                                                                                                                            a solution needs someone in
                                                                                                                                            power to be interested – like a
                                                                                                                                            Crossman or Sandys – in fact,
                                                                                                                                            he said, “we need a crisis.”
                                                                                                                                              We went from crisis to cake
                                                                                                                                            as the event ended with thanks
          SAINT JUDE-ON-THE-HILL • THE PARISH CHURCH OF HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB                                                             to the speaker and tea with the
                                                                                                           home-made  cakes  that  are  a
                                                                                                                                            Suburb ubiquity, and very tasty.
      6                                                                                         SUBURB NEWS IS PRODUCED AND DELIVERED TO YOU BY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEERS
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