Avenue House Estate Trust

Avenue House Estate Trust

At a glance

Causes

  • Gardens and parks
  • Museums / heritage

Other details

Geographical remit: 
Local

Objectives

Avenue House Estate Trust (AHET) is the registered charity that manages Stephens House & Gardens - the former home of ink magnate Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens - for the benefit of the people of Finchley in north London.

Prior to AHET's existence, the house and gardens were in a state of disrepair.  In the late 1990s, a group of local people became concerned that the London Borough of Barnet might wish to sell the estate for development. They agreed with the Council that they should form a charity to lease the whole estate and manage it for the community’s benefit. AHET took a 125-year lease out from October 2002.

AHET runs the house and buildings to provide meeting rooms for community purposes, and runs the grounds as public gardens.

The charity's principal objectives are to promote the conservation of grounds and buildings of Stephens House & Gardens in Finchley for the benefit of the public; and to educate the public in the historical, Architectural, landscape and cultural aspects of the grounds and buildings.

Activities

 

This is an exciting time for the Trust. We are in the final stages of delivering a major improvement to the gardens, funded mainly from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery.

  • The improvement has covered every corner of the gardens; restoring major landscape features such as the pond, rockery and bog garden will be sympathetically restored to their former nineteenth century glory.
  • We have re-established many original views, and undertaken vital repairs to structures, footpaths, gates and railings. We have also expanded and upgraded the playground, which was opened, to popular acclaim, in September.
  • We have built a new depot for our gardeners and volunteers, and as a result are now converting the garage into a community resource room for events and educational activities, and also converting the stable block into a new café/restaurant. These two new facilities will be ready to open by early 2017.
  • We have let the Bothy, a major listed structure in the gardens, to the charity Terapia, and have supported them in raising a further £2m to restore the ‘at risk’ building. This work is now in hand.
  • Once the upgrade to the gardens and other buildings is complete, we plan to embark on a much-needed refurbishment of the magnificent Stephens House.

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