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FINCHLEY CENTRAL (Northern Line - High Barnet)
For those who like exploring churches and Victorian cemeteries, plus there's 
an unusual museum collection along the way. Actual walking distance is about 
2 miles, but this doesn't include pottering round the park at Stephens House 
or investigating the cemetery. You should allow  a whole morning. 

From the Tube take the Ballards Road exit. At the end of road from the station turn left into Regents Park  Road.   Cross at the lights just past the bridge, glancing to the right to see an electric sign on a small barber's shop. Walking to the left will take you past a shopping parade with a mixture of styles - including a clock tower on the corner. Where the road forks ( another clock tower) go right into  Hendon Lane. Pardes House School (built in 1861) with its somewhat excessive tower dominates the view here. Opposite is the more modest  St.-Mary-at-Finchley with some  early eighteenth century gravestones near the porch. This (basically) fifteenth century church is open in daylight hours and there are some ancient monuments and a splendid organ case to be found inside. A little further on is Park House (1739) with its villagey white picket fence. All this is about ten minutes walk from the station. Cross over the road and go down Gravel Hill.   At Regents Park Lane cross at the lights and walk to the right, past what was once the Queen's Head pub,  to get to East End Road. A few minutes will being you to the handsome Hertford Lodge - a huge Victorian pile.   Next door is Stephens House and Gardens. The rooms are let out for weddings, conferences, concerts, etc, but it is not generally open to the public In 1874 the house was bought by ‘Inky’ Stephens, son of Dr.Henry Stephens, inventor of the blue-black ink so familiar to generations before the advent of ball-point pens.  There is a small exhibition of memorabilia associated with the Stephens Ink Company.   (Check website for opening times.) It has to be said that the front view of this large mansion is not beautiful, but once round the back the architectural confusion is more attractive. 

The gardens are cleverly landscaped to make them seem larger than they really are. There is a special collection of trees, lots of seats and a small lake, so it is a very pleasant place to eat your sandwiches and have a stroll. The grounds contain some odd buildings – the stable yard next to the lodge as you go in has a little turret, and hidden away in the grounds is a mysterious castellated building called ‘The Bothy’. This once accommodated estate workers and included a series of workshops, dairy, kitchen garden etc. Incidentally it's an early (1880's) example of using concrete in a utilitarian building disguised as a picturesque feature of the estate. There are plans for it to be transformed into a cafe and the old garden has already been laid out most delightfully, as can be seen from the photo. The round ivy-clad structure nearby was the water tower for a long-vanished laundry. There is also a children’s playground.
Further down the road is the Sternberg Centre, a synagogue and Jewish learning facility. This is a large complex, part of which is a lovely early Georgian house. Although it is open to the public, security is very strict. I was politely asked my business after peering through the gates by the main entrance while trying to see the main house (in fact seen better a bit further down from the other side of the road).
The final item on the route is the East Finchley Cemetery and crematorium, about five minutes on from the Sternberg Centre. The entrance is immediately after you go over the North Circular Road bridge There are several interesting memorials to look out for in this large Victorian burial ground. 
Once inside the gates, turn left and go down the last pathway (Yew Tree Avenue). On the left hand side, near the yew bushes at the end, you will discover an very unusual memorial. The memory of cricketer CharlesThornton(1850-1929), famous as a 'big hitter', is kept alive by a stump, bat and ball carved on an otherwise plain cross. Anyone interested in the history of the game will enjoy the details found by clicking on the link. Go left at Cyprus Avenue, which has the dramatic Renaissance-style tomb of one Thomas Tate (d.1909) on the left just before the road joins West Avenue. Walk past the stone chapel to find an impressive statue depicting an angel and an engineer, which commemorates Sir Peter Nicol Russell (1816-1905) who founded a school of engineering in Australia. Turn round to get to Central Avenue.   Walk the whole length of this and turn left. You will see under the first tree a most poignant gravestone - that of a young musician who died in 1922.   The cross that marks his resting place is adorned with a sculpted violin, forever silent. 

Turn back and pass the end of Central Avenue, then take the first road on the right, West Avenue, which has conifer woodland on one side.  Collectors of unusual names might like to pause at the stone for the Wildgoose family, just after the Celtic cross on the right. Continue up the avenue, keeping a stone chapel on your left.   At the next junction go ahead, do a left turn at the following T junction, then a dog-leg right. Soon you will be back in Cypress Avenue where you should turn right to get back to the main chapel. This time walk to the left hand side of it and follow the signs to the exit. (Sorry about the lengthy directions - but if you have ever seen something you liked in a large cemetery and returned another day to try to locate it,  you will appreciate why I go into such detail.)  At this stage, your best bet is to return home via EastFinchleyTube station by bus (otherwise it's a good ten minute walk.) There is a frequent service from the stop just over the East End road to the left of the cemetery gates. The early nineteenth-century building behind the old wall belongs to the Carmelite Friars.

*Clicking on this link may inspire you take a very short stroll round the area - or at least to keep a look-out for the wonderful statue at the station. 
This is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found, even in the most unpromising areas covered by the Greater London Underground stations. Usually the places listed are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored . You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR