On Friday 23rd March we were all delighted and grateful to welcome Joanna Lumley to Stephens House & Gardens. She very kindly performed the official opening of the Visitor Centre and Stephens Collection in its new home in the refurbished coach house.
With good fortune the day had good weather and so she could enjoy a view of the grounds, spend time on Spike's Bench with our friends from the Finchley Society and then enjoy a light lunch before the opening ceremony itself.
After a speech of welcome from our Trust Chairman, Alison Dean, Joanna gave an enthusiastic and welcoming speech in return commenting on the value and importance of restoration and safekeeping our heritage in buildings and valuing the contribution it makes to community. She then declared the building open, in Welsh (she explained that Finchley is a long way from South London and that Welsh might have been required and so had learnt a suitable phrase for the opening), and enjoyed viewing the collection and meeting staff, trustees and tenants from the house before signing the visitor book, using Stephens Ink of course, at the end of her visit.
After several years of hard work by the trust board, trustees, house management and staff, the day was a fitting event to showcase the work that had been done to improve and maintain this important local legacy and facility.
Spike Miiligan would have been 100 on 16th April.
Come and have your own "Conversation with Spike" here at the Gardens
Do you have Memories of the House and Gardens?
Have you got photos you would like to share?
2018 sees the 100th anniversary of Henry Inky Stephens bequest of the House & Gardens.
Throughout the year we will be collecting memories. If you have memories to share, please let us know.
You can pop in to the House or Visitor Centre or contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Typewriters from the Stephens Collection appeared on stage with Tom Hanks at the Royal Festival Hall on Wednesday (1 November).
Tom was in conversation about his book of short stories Uncommon Type. You can see him and our Oliver no9 and Royal 10 typewriters here
The Duke, who was accompanied by the Deputy Lieutenant of London, Martin Russell, and the Mayor of Barnet, David Longstaff, met representatives from the Heritage of London Trust, and staff and Trustees from Stephens House & Gardens.
The Duke was shown the historic, Grade 2 listed, water tower in the Gardens. Built in the 1880s as part of Henry Stephens’ system to purify the water to the Estate, it is possibly the oldest reinforced concrete water tower in existence. The tower has been on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register for some years, and the Heritage of London Trust has given sponsorship towards its restoration. This work is part of Avenue House Estate Trust’s £3m project to restore the Gardens, for which other funding has principally come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery, and Barnet Council. Historic England has indicated that it expects to remove the tower from the ‘at risk’ register when this work is completed
The Duke concluded his visit by planting an Indian Bean tree in the Gardens, replacing a similar tree planted in 1935 to mark the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King George V.