High winds tore down trees dating back 155 years at a historic Finchley estate.

Three large trees, including two poplars, fell at Stephens House & Gardens in East End Road during a ferocious storm on Friday night.

The Grade II-listed Victorian mansion was once owned by Henry Charles Stephens, who bought the house in 1874 after his father, Dr Henry Stephens, invented blue-black ink in 1832.

It boasts one of the last surviving gardens developed by Robert Marnock, the leading garden designer of the time.

Managers at the estate were keen to maintain Marnock’s vision for long vistas, and cherished the trees and plants he had chosen for the garden.

Trust chairman Andy Savage told the Times Series: “I was very fed up when I realised some of the trees had come down. 

“We’ve been doing a lot of studies on our trees and we’d hoped to keep the poplars for a very long time. It’s a bit of our history that’s gone. It’s very sad.”

The poplars, which are believed to have been planted in Stephens’ time, were approximately 20 metres tall and one and a half metres wide.

At least half a dozen more trees were also damaged in the winds, leaving large branches and twigs strewn across the grounds.

Twenty-four volunteers, including eight from University College London, turned out to help clear the debris yesterday.  

Mr Savage said: “I was absolutely delighted that so many people came to help. Everybody worked very hard carting all the timber and odds and sods to the top of the grounds and getting the path, parallel to The Avenue, back open again.”

Tree surgeons will be brought in to cut the larger trees and parts of the trunks will be placed around the grounds. The rest of the wood will be recycled, and some will be given away as firewood in return for a donation to the estate.

Heavy rain is predicted to hit the borough again this evening, although no weather warnings are in place.