An historic estate in Finchley has changed its name after 155 years ahead of a £3.3million renovation project to secure its future for generations to come.
Avenue House in East End Road will now be known as Stephens House & Gardens to promote the history of the Grade II-listed Victorian mansion, which was developed in 1859.
Henry Charles Stephens bought the house in 1874 after his father, Dr Henry Stephens invented blue-black ink in 1832.
He became known as Inky Stephens when he built a factory in Finchley and made his fortune manufacturing his father’s ink.
The change of name comes as the estate’s trust prepares to submit its plans to redevelop parts of the estate.
A planning application will be submitted to Barnet Borough Council at the end of February, asking for permission to redevelop the estate’s stables into a cafe and restaurant.
The plans will also include proposals to develop the old garage into an activities centre where people can learn about the estate’s history, turn an old gentleman’s toilet into a kiosk, increase the playground facilities and improve the terrace overlooking the grounds.
Trust chairman Andy Savage said: “By being able to better interpret the history of this amazing facility and expand our ability to provide an invaluable resource for education, learning and recreation will secure Henry Stephens’ glorious legacy for years to come.
“Providing a venue name that instantly informs of the history is just a small but important part of a three year project that will enhance the experience for all.”
The trust has already been awarded £250,000 from the council and £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) – but it hopes to get an extra £1.9million from HLF to complete the work by 2017.
Mr Savage added: “The HLF has committed to supporting this project, and submitting the plans will be the next step. We want to do this with the help of the community and will be consulting with them along the way.”
Henry Stephens bequeathed the estate to the people of Finchley when he died in 1918, and although still owned by the council, the trust has a 125-year lease during which time it intends to uphold Stephens’ intention for the estate to be enjoyed by people living in the area.
To get involved in the consultation for the plans click here.